Mount Royal University honours residential school survivor

Mount Royal University presented Blackfoot Elder Miiksika’am with an honorary Doctor of Laws Tuesday at an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony.

“It’s a happy moment in my life,” said elder Miiksika’am.

Miiksika’am was sent to the Old Sun Residential School near Gleichen at the age of six.

His mother told him that he had to stay there a long time, never speak his language, and he had to learn English.

However, despite the oppression of the residential school system, Miiksika'am never lost sight of who he was.

“Today I look back and it taught me courage to not take that spirit away from me,” said Miiksika’am. “My language, who I am. They never succeeded, that drove me to set my sights to what I am going to be.”

Miiksika’am went on to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces and to lead his community as a spiritual leader.

The recent discovery of 215 children’s remains in Kamloops this week weighs heavily on Miiksika’am.

“It puts a heaviness in our hearts,” said Miiksika’am. “Anybody that passes away, especially children, everyone feels the emotion of that loss.”