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Franco-Cité students visit the site of a former residential school in Sault Ste-Marie.

Emotional history lesson at former residential school

by Logan Lavoie

This past weekend was a memorable and emotional one for students of É.s. Franco-Cité, who traveled to Sault Ste-Marie on November 23rd to tour Algoma University, a former residential school, as part of their Indigenous Studies class curriculum. The Shingwauk school was one of the many residential schools that operated in Ontario, and ran from 1873 to 1970.

It was an impactful history lesson as the group saw the memorial for children who died at the school, in the entrance of the university, and the Fauquier Chapel that was built by students of the residential school. Franco-Cité student Johnny Bourque will never forget it. “It was very sad knowing what they had to go through. Having the chance to see all of this in person is truly unforgettable and eye opening,” he says. 

The group also saw the cemetery where residential school students were buried, with the tour guide estimating there are between 100 and 200 bodies there, though many deaths were never registered. Inside the exhibition hall of the university, a display shows the history of the Shingwauk residential school, the students’ experiences and the transformation from an industrial building to residential building. Students had the chance to read the survivors’ stories on the wall.

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