NOTE TRIGGER WARNING: SOME PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE DISCUSS THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL ISSUE AND MAY AFFECT SOME READERS
Gerry (Gramma) Lee Shingoose, a Manitoba residential school survivor, recently Tweeted, “MB PC Govt please know Indigenous knowledge keepers will die. Way to silence Us.” in reference to Premier Stefanson’s quote on the current Covid Pandemic Omicron surge and her belief that residents of Manitoba will “have to learn to live with it.”
Shingoose, who is also an Indigenous Grandmother who provides support and guidance to a large community in Winnipeg, response was, “NO I can’t learn to live with it. NO. I can’t get Covid!”
Gerry Shingoose is an Anishinaabe Ikwe from Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve, Treaty 4 Territory. Her spirit names are “Sky Woman” and “Northern Lights Woman”, and she comes from the Bear Clan. She attended Muscowequan Residential School for 9 years, from 1962-1971, and is often seen in the media sharing her truths about her experience and of those who no longer have a voice to speak out. “Being a Knowledge Keeper in the community has brought me grace and love for all people. I receive my strength from the grassroots movement who bring voice to all the colonial injustices experienced today. Currently, as a Knowledge Keeper and Matriarch, I am bringing voice for the children who were found buried on the grounds of Residential Schools across Canada,” said Gerry in an online interview.
“We must bring justice for the way they were hidden & buried with no regard for their precious lives. I will continue to bring Justice for them against the Catholic Church, the Federal Government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their involvement in this genocide,” she continued. Shingoose’s voice has been heard by media outlets such as: CBC, NCI FM, CTV, APTN, BBC, TRT World News London, World News Radio, New Zealand, and New York Times. “The true history of Residential Schools must be heard world-wide,” she insists.
But it was the recent public statement made by Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson that caused Shingoose to publicly speak out once again.
“I’m speaking from my view as a Grandmother who volunteered to be one of the Knowledge Keepers to get vaccinated by the province when it 1st rolled out. Her statement is definitely failing Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, Elders, and Seniors, as we are quite vulnerable, and if we get COVID we would surely not survive. A lot of our Knowledge Keepers/Elders have already passed away from COVID. Her (Premier Stefanson’s) statement is silencing us, our Knowledge, our experience, our teachings. It’s like she has no regard for the old people. Saying we need to “live with it” is not okay. Saying we are all going to get COVID is NOT okay!”
It’s a feeling that the government has given up on trying to protect it’s vulnerable population. This includes the elders and the Knowledge Keepers, who experienced the horrors of the residential school system.
Gerry Shingoose concludes by speaking out about the premier, “She needs to be more proactive and protect Manitobans, which includes us Knowledge Keepers.”
Tdot Women Magazine attempted to contact the Premier of Manitoba’s office and at the time of this publication have yet to hear a response. We will update the article if one is sent forth.