Extra research for Season 3 – Episode 13 – The Angels
Surely some of the places with the saddest spirits in Canada are the former residential schools, where approximately 150,000 First Nations and Métis children lost their cultures, identities, and even their lives at the hands of government and church employees whose aim was to “kill the Indian in the child.”
The Other Side encountered some of these spirits in the investigation of the former Muskowekwan Indian Residential School in the village of Lestock, Saskatchewan, not far from the Muskowekwan First Nation. When the original school became too small for the number of students, it was replaced by this building, which open in 1932. Cree, Saulteaux, Métis and other Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families and made to attend school there where they were taught by Catholic nuns and priests.
Many of the students endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and some of them died at the school. The spirits of some of these children, and perhaps one of the abusers, still haunt the abandoned building, which is known by former students and people who worked in the building to be a hotbed of paranormal activity.
Many of the estimated 6000 students who died in Canada’s residential schools were buried in unmarked graves near the schools rather than being returned to their families. At the site of the Muskowekwan School, which closed in 1981, at least 19 unmarked graves were discovered in 1992.
According to federal records, some of the burials date back to the early 1900’s and the original school.As time passes, the Muskowekwan school building has also become a place for healing. Survivors and their descendants have returned to face its dark past and have ceremonies to move on, much like the sacred fire and charcoal ceremonies that Tom performed to help the little angels and to protect everyone involved in the investigation.
It’s possible that other residential schools or the locations where they used to stand in Canada are also haunted by the spirits of the young victims of horrific abuse at the hands of government and church employees. Paranormal stories have emerged not just from The Muskowekwan Indian Residential School, but from a former residential school in Ontario, too, and one in Manitoba.
Generations of Canada’s Indigenous people are still haunted by the impact of the residential schools, but hopefully the victims who haunt the schools themselves can finally find peace on the other side.
— Sarah MacDonald