Yesterday, I received this powerful letter from Kenneth Young, a lawyer and a residential school survivor. The letter is filled with grace and simple truths.
Joan, it is a sad when people of influence who have done wrong fail to accept responsibility for the harm their wrongful actions have caused.
John Furlong must know in his mind that he did a lot of harm to young people he was entrusted to provide guidance. He will face further scrutiny in the coming months as the class action on day schools is worked on as to how it will be settled. If it will result in an agreement like the Indian Residential School Settlement with an adjudication process, I am sure the students he now stands accused of abusing will most certainly be claimants in which he will be most surely a person of interest.
My advice to Mr. Furlong is he reach out and call for a healing circle in which he will face his accusers and deal with the hurt and harm he has caused them, now to himself and those people who are most close to him.
If he chooses this path I believe his journey back to respectability will be one where he will be received by most people with open arms. It will be a journey, when taken with the right steps and attitude, that will bring true healing and reconciliation for himself and those he has harmed. Through this acceptance of what he did to those young innocent people was wrong John Furlong, I am confident, will learn the magnificence of the patience and kindness of First Nations people.
In saying this, I as a survivor of 10 years of Indian Residential School life, have been able to forgive the church and state for this very dark chapter in my life. It was not easy but the church and state reached out and this has helped me to carry on with my healing journey which will, I have now accepted will be a lifelong inner process. Mr. Furlong can do no less if wants to reinvigorate his life.
November 26, 2015
Attention: The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The Honourable Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould
The Honourable Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Carolyn Bennett
Re: Burns Lake First Nations People and John Furlong
It’s time that our voices are heard.
We, the undersigned, call upon the Prime Minister to request that John Furlong step down from Share the Podium until we are heard.
In her September 2015 judgment, the judge made comments about us without hearing from us. No-one had time to listen to us. They should have talked to us before any decision was made.
The judge said Laura Robinson distributed a flyer, but we saw no flyer. We communicate not in writing, but by mouth. When we heard Laura was coming to Burns Lake, most people assumed it was to talk about residential schools. Laura talked to those people and, after they left, she talked to us—those of us who had had Mr. Furlong as their PE teacher. Many of us—-members of the Lake Babine Nations—-were not at the Burns Lake Band office.
The judge said Laura “contaminated” our memories. But she didn’t. We all have bad memories of Mr. Furlong, but over the years we haven’t talked much about them. It would be good if we talked more together.
When we saw him on TV, the anger came back. “Is he still around?” we thought. After the Olympics, we found out he hadn’t even mentioned Burns Lake in his book.
Someone said Laura damaged us. That is not true. Mr. Furlong was one who damaged us. He was part of a system that damaged our dreams.
Someone on the Whitecaps said on the Internet, “native people just want more money.” We never asked for money. We just wanted our stories heard.
Please direct your reply to Cathy Woodgate—email@example.com.
“Hereditary Chief Richard Perry”
“Hereditary Chief Ronnie Alec”
“Ronnie William West”
“Pius Charlie” (Burns Lake Band)
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