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Williams Lake councillor shares impacts of residential schools

Coun. Michael Moses shared his family’s loss at a council meeting to help counter denialist claims
Michael Moses is a city councillor in Williams Lake. (Photo by Casey Bennett)

A city councillor in Williams Lake shared his own family’s tragedy as a way to address the denialism controversy the Quesnel city council is currently facing.

Coun. Michael Moses made an emotional speech during the roundtable at the regular council meeting on April 9, addressing the ongoing uproar over a book reportedly being shared by Quesnel’s mayor’s wife and Mayor Ron Paul himself. The book downplays the harms done by the residential school system to Indigenous peoples.

Moses began by stating both his parents attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“I haven’t spoken of this in public before but I’ve had relatives as little as two generations ago that died at that residential school and did not return home to our family.”

Moses pointed out how both the Canadian government and the Catholic church have declared impacts to Indigenous people in Canada a form of genocide.

“I feel like we should be well past the time where First Nations people need to defend ourselves regarding residential schools and the harms caused by them,” he said.

Moses emphasized the importance of education and said he will personally be recommending resources daily for the rest of the month so people can educate themselves.

He began by recommending They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars and Beyond the Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad, both local First Nations authors and residential school survivors.

“I implore that anyone looking to further their knowledge on these topics, please take the time to learn from Indigenous people who went through the experience,” he said.

Before he began, Moses wanted to point out how Williams Lake city council had items in the same April 9 meeting moving towards reconciliation.

Williams Lake council had moved to shift a regular meeting in order to accept an invitation from the Tŝilhqot’in National Government to attend a special learning session. There was also a letter from the council in the agenda package written in support of Williams Lake First Nation’s memorial park project.

Moses himself decided to go into politics when a similar controversy erupted after the city of Williams Lake’s previous mayor Walt Cobb, had posted on Facebook about the “other side” of residential schools.

Moses was inspired to attend city council meetings and to run for council himself, and was elected to council in the October 2022 municipal election.

READ MORE: Williams Lake mayor criticized for sharing ‘other side of the story’ on residential schools

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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