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New doc explores on-going impact of residential schools

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Troy Shantz

The impact of residential schools goes far beyond the children who attended them, a new documentary by Sarnia filmmaker Dwayne Cloes demonstrates.

“This second generation is living with the residential school experience every day,” Cloes said.

“Bits and pieces of everything that happened at these schools to their parents, is happening to them.”

‘Aftershock’ is a 40-minute doc featuring interviews with six children of survivors.

The film will be screened at the Sarnia Library Theatre on April 4, followed by an open discussion and testimonies. Admission is free.

Beginning in the 1880s and for more than a century Canada’s residential school system saw 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children forcibly separated from their families and sent to institutions run by Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches.

Thousand of young students were physically and sexually abused, leading to a cycle of addiction and abuse among Indigenous communities today.

Cloes said Aftershock explores that multi-generational legacy.

“The effect of residential schools became abundantly clear to me right away,” he said. “Walpole alone has 300 or 400 (survivors).”

Cloes turned to filmmaking after a 36-year career at Polysar, Nova Chemicals, Bayer and TransAlta.

His latest effort is a follow-up to the 2016 film ‘We Are Still Here,’ which featured the first-hand accounts of residential school survivors from Aamjiwnaang and the Walpole Island First Nation.

Among those profiled was Geraldine Robertson, an Aamjiwnaang elder awarded the Order of Ontario this year for her work at uncovering the ongoing trauma of families.

As a non-native, Cloes said he is well aware that he’s telling stories from a position of privilege.

“I didn’t ask to be born a white male, but I was, and I just thought how easy life is,” he said.

“I really realize that there is a difference.”



WHAT: Aftershock, a documentary from Dwayne Cloes

WHEN: April 4, at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Sarnia Library Theatre, 124 Christina St. South

TICKETS: Admission is free



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