“They gathered us up like cattle”: Chief Dominic Rankin, here 2014, recalls.
Image: Shaharzad Ghafari/Ethnologue Art
Chief Rankin is among some 150,000 Canadian Indigenous, Inuit and Mestizo peoples forced by the government to attend boarding schools. Then slowly work is being done on the abusive language from behind.
DThe early years of his childhood must have been magical. Dominic Rankin – or Kapitotak, as the Algonquin tribes call the indigenous people – took them to the forests of Abitibi, a remote region in the Canadian province of Quebec. The tribe, along with his parents and 17 siblings, roamed the forests and lived according to the rhythms of nature. The forest promised freedom. Freedom to live in harmony with mother earth, animals and plants. Every spring, members of the nomadic tribe roamed the pine and pine forests in search of orphaned bear cubs. “It was part of our tradition to take a cub every year, feed it and watch it grow,” Chief Rankin recalled in an interview via Zoom. “Bear and we grew up together.”
Shortly after the seventh birthday, tradition and freedom came to an end. It was when Canadian government officials came into the woods that the first white men met Rankin. Along with other Algonquin children, he raised the son of the tribal leader and medicine man. “They came without notice and picked us up like cattle,” says Chief Rankin. It would be seven years before he returned.
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