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Join the Film!

Order The Fallen Feather
94 Minute Feature Documentary Now!

Produced, Directed, Filmed, Photographed,
Researched, Written & Edited by
Randy N Bezeau

Hosted, Co Produced, Co Researched,
Photographed & Filmed by
Jannica R Hoskins


All Rights Reserved Dec 2007

Between 1879 and 1986, upwards of 100,000 children in Canada were forcibly removed and placed into Indian Industrial Residential Schools. Their unique culture was stripped away to be replaced with a foreign European identity. Their family ties were cut, parents were forbidden to visit their children, and the children were prevented from returning home.

First Nations children were the only children in Canadian History, to be singled out by race and forced to live in institutions; generation after generation.
ND Rosiers - President, Law Commission of Canada, 15 August 2001, Sydney, Australia

The Indian Agents and RCMP removed the children from their families and placed them within these schools as wards of the state.

Why were these walls built? Why were so many children corralled behind these bricks so far from home? Tens of thousands died of Tuberculosis and other ailments brought on by the grossly inadequate living standards. Families destroyed, generations lost. All to further the official policy of achieving a ‘final solution’ to what had been perceived as an ‘Indian problem’. Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent D. C. Scott to B.C. Indian Agent-General Major D. McKay, 1910 April, DIA Archives, RG 10 series.

Pick up a paper today and the chances are there will be some reference to the First Nations condition.  

Tens of thousands of cases of sexual and physical abuses. The Government has assumed partial responsibility for this historical wrong and has agreed to pay out Billions in damages. They agree that the assimilation of First Nations children within these Industrial Schools was a terrible mistake.

A mistake? The assimilation of First Nations wasn’t a mistake; it was a plan. 

The abuses that occurred within these Residential Schools were only symptoms of a greater problem. To focus on the obvious crime of physical and psychological abuse is to divert attention from the real story.

Land, This Land.

The Fallen Feather provides an in-depth critical analysis of the driving forces behind the creation of Canadian Indian Residential Schools.

Using historical source documents, survivors personal testimonies and detailed analysis from community leaders, the film explores in detail, the Federal Governments primary motivation in the creation of these Schools.

While examining the influences of Indian wars, Sir John A MacDonald’s National Policy, Land Claims issues, the film details how all of these events and visions contributed to the development of these Schools.  

The film argues that the lasting effects that First Nations in Canada suffer today, can be traced back directly to their experiences within these schools. Finally, we as Canadians are all challenge to re-examine our shared history.

Full 35 page text is available for sale, click here to order now

Click here to read an abbreviated sample:
(contractable text will drop down and open within page- click again to contract)




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Its important for us to be reminded that the Residential Schools were all about the eradication of Indianess in the country. They were designed to do away with the Indian fact in the country. And to mould us into something that obviously we could never be.
National Chief Phil Fontaine

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The Ottawa nation in particular had little fond feelings for the English. Lead by a great warrior, (Chief) Pontiac a new Indian war was waged. The British continued to lose men and settlers by the hundreds.

The Royal Government recognized that there was an urgent need to form a military alliances with the First Nations who at that time, greatly outnumbered European settlers.

After the defeat of Pontiac, the British held out an olive branch in the form of a formal understanding. The Royal Proclamation of 1763.  

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The Royal Proclamation formalized the treaty process, recognizing for the first time that aboriginals were self-governing nations.
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The Crown recognized that the First Nations had legal rights to the land. These titles would have to be signed over to the crown through a formal treaty process with due consideration for the Indians.  

This British Law, became Canadian law after the British North America Act and Canadian Confederation. And is still legally binding today.


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The government was obligated to negotiate with the Indians. However, back in the late nineteenth century, treaty making, if you can call it that, was more about the art of deception. Stall them, starve them and lock them up.

And after suffering decades of abuses the Tribes of Western Canada were growing extremely impatient with their white Neighbours.

Through out the region, First Nations challenged the governments assertion of land ownership.  

And so, Canada entered the dark decades of Indian Wars.


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With the threat of War, it was clear to the government that the First Nations of Western Canada were not going to easily give up their land.

And so, in the interests of Nation Building, The Macdonald government formulated a new Indian policy that would put an end to the land question.

This policy would pacify First Nations adults through rigidly enforced regulations, wile aggressively assimilating First nations children into the European culture.

The RCMP would control the parents, but what about their children. Left untouched, they would grow up into adults, and then the Indian problem would continue.


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And this policy was constructed so that we were removed from our families, from our communities, we were denied our culture our languages and there was little, no positive reinforcement of who we were as a peoples. So the schools were really designed to confine our people. To keep them in one place. And unfortunately this particular policy had tragic consequences.
National Chief Phil Fontaine  

You know, people justify horrible acts during times of war. And for Macdonald, this would include the taking of children as hostages.

Residential Schools were to become a fundamental tool of assimilation and pacification.

This fact is still denied by the Federal Government to this day. The Conservative Government will not issue a public apology.

The residential school chapter of our history was one that was a difficult chapter but " fundamentally, the underlying objective had been to try and provide an education to aboriginal children." Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice March 2008  

There was a darker truth that was made clear in letters sent to the Macdonald government.

Edgar Dewdney, now an Indian Commissioner of the North West Territories in 1885 wrote to the MacDonald government saying - “the Indians would regard them, their children, as hostages, given to the whites and would hesitate to commit any hostile acts that would endanger their children’s well being. “

Further to this, J A McCrae an Indian agent and future department superintendent stated. " it is unlikely that any tribe or tribes would give trouble of a serious nature to the government whose members had children completely under government control."

To prevent further Native unrest, the Government believed that it had to take hostages. Now land could be expropriated, treaties could be rolled back, and the railway could be built. What could the Native parents do wile the Government held their children.  


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I learned how to cope with all this hard part of my life. And I know other people of my age and even younger, have gone through the same thing, feel the same way. Our children, our young people come first. And all this turmoil we went through at the hands of people that were running this. I don’t blame any church group, I just put the ownes on the Government. Because their the ones that I feel were ahead of all this turmoil that we were subjected to. It was the Government that used the churches.
Dr. Mary Thomas
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I was six and half, my sister was a year older than me. Just out of the blue they picked us up and took us to Residential School in Kamloops. And I can remember my mother would get us all dressed up and ready to go back to school, what a horrible day. We would be all crying we don’t want to go back, don’t want to go back. We would all wait at the church. And here comes the cattle truck. Cow poop and all. They would just put the home made benches on the side. They would have the high racks. They wouldn’t even bother to scrub the floors. Truck would pull in, all the kids would just get packed in there and it was rough going. And that was to be our joy ride all the way to Kamloops.
Dr Mary Thomas


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If you were to look at my situation. Yes I suffered abuse. Physical and sexual abuse. But the greatest damage to my physci, if you want to put it that way. Was the separation from my family, from my mother, because our father died in my first year at Residential School. That caused me the most distress, anguish, pain, hurt, then anything that was ever done to me in the two schools that I attended for 10 years.
And I don’t know if I will ever be able to overcome that.
National Chief Phil Fontaine.


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The Strapping I got when I was absent, when I run away. That was the first one. Kids count it, I didn’t count it because it was so painful. I got 50 lashes on my back. And that Reverend Father O’grady, its OK if I say the words because its true. It happened. See. And he became a bishop later. But that man gave me 50 lashes on my back. I couldn’t sit down for three weeks maybe more. It hurt. Right in the dormitory. (in front of everybody) Just lay over my bead, took my night shirt up and give it to me.
Ernie Philip



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Without their traditional language, Children could never go back to a traditional Indian life style. The links to the past would be broken. This cultural and spiritual alienation would accelerate their assimilation into Canadian society.

Its really Hard. I think that to me its harder then the actual strapping I got in school. The hunger we were subjected to. There was apples in the.. There use to be an orchard down below were they have the kikulies now in Kamloops. They had an orchard down their. Crab apples, mackintosh, you name it. And the apples would fall on the ground. Oh, we were so hungry, if only I could get some of them apples. We would sneak down the river. Go down and come up. Fill our aprons with apples. If we got caught boy, Brother Joseph use to have a stick as big as your thumb. Big long one. He would grab that and boy he could whack you across the legs. Be welts all over black and blue. ‘Drop it drop it.’ You would have to let it all go. But you know, we learned to be smarter then them.
Dr. Mary Thomas  


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The children were always hungry, they were poorly clothed, and they were chronically sick.

If the Indian policies were benevolent, it would not have chronically under funded the Residential Schools. Knowingly leaving the children hungry and poorly clothed.

If the Indian policies were benevolent, it would not have constructed schools that were well below accepted building standards of that day.

If the Indian policies were benevolent, it would not have ignored the deaths of tens of thousands of children from tuberculosis.


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“In 1909 Dr. Peter Bryce of the Ontario Health Department, was hired by the Indian Affairs Department in Ottawa to tour the Indian residential schools in western Canada and British Columbia and report on the Health conditions there.

Bryce’s report so scandalized the government and the churches that it was officially buried, and only surfaced in 1922 when Bryce, who was forced out of the civil service for the honesty of his report, wrote a book about this tragedy.”

The Story of a National Crime:
Reference: Rev. Kevin D. Annett, M.A., M.Div - Copyright @ The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, 2001

In his report Dr. Bryce claimed that Indian children were being systematically and deliberately killed in the residential schools. He cited an average mortality rate of between 35% and 60%, and alleged that staff and church officials were regularly withholding or falsifying records and other evidence of children’s deaths.

Bryce charged that this was a “criminal disregard” of responsibility. “(In the schools, a ) trail of disease and death has gone on almost unchecked by any serious efforts on the part of the Department of Indian Affairs.” Nc p 51

The Saturday Night wrote: “ Indian boys and girls are dying like flies… Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards.” Nc p.90


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I believe that’s its all about better exposure. (through education?) For sure, but in terms of… here I’m referring to what Canadian are exposed to. They ought to be exposed to the facts. The true story about aboriginal people or First Nations people here. The conditions, the intolerable conditions that exist in First Nations communities. And to bring closure for many of us its about telling our story. And that’s always been my biggest and strongest desire. Was to have someone recognize what was done to us. Accept responsibility for what was done to us. Apologies for what was done to us. And then most importantly, is to be able to tell the story so that all will know what the Residential experience was all about. What it did to people. The consequences of those actions. And its place in our history. Because we all have to contend with that now.
National Chief Phil Fontaine

We’ve talked about how many survivors have identified to you clearly that what they want is their story to be told. Is there going to be any emphasis in regards to that with in Provincial educations systems?
Jannica R Hoskins


You know that’s… in some ways that gets lost in all of the debate. And I think in large part that’s probably the most important thing that we can do. We are hoping that we can see the development of an appropriate curriculum with respect to Residential Schools. One that doesn’t duck the hard issues. The reality of what happened in Canada over the last 150 years. I think survivors need to know that people understand that it wasn’t their fault. Survivors need to know as well that this wont happen again. So public education is a really important thing. We don’t do enough of it.
Shawn Tupper

You cant escape the fact that people were harmed and were hurt. And if they new, they would be appalled they wouldn’t accept that for a moment. And it would compel government through pressure form their citizens to do something about this.
National Chief Phil Fontaine

And when you grow up with that hard feeling inside you have no feelings for anybody. Not even for yourself. And its tough. Its really hard. I went through it. And I had to really work on myself. And it was through my culture that I learned how to let go.
Dr Mary Thomas

Its through our culture that we can learn to let go. Knowledge, respect, acknowledgment and forgiveness.

We as Canadians can all learn from the spirit of the dance. In this circle we become witness to our shared history. And together we can pick up our fallen feather.

The Fallen Feather
Randy N Bezeau
randy@fallenfeatherproductions.com
24 Dec 2007