We Were Children: A film screening and workshop about the intergenerational traumas of the Indian Residential School System

What are the effects of the Indian Residential School System (IRSS) on indigenous communities and how can trauma-infomed and culturally senstive approaches help the entire school population?

The Indian Residential School System (IRSS) has had a profound and lasting affect on the lives of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.  Twenty-two such schools once operated in B.C. and, though they are now all closed, the trauma and intergenerational trauma remains.  School counsellors in B.C. must understand how past injustices affect the young people and families whom they serve.

This event will include a screening of the film “We Were Children,” which tells the true story of two IRSS Survivors.  Afterwards, there will be a short presentation about the history of the IRSS and Gertie Pierre, an indigenous elder and Survivor of the IRSS, will share her deeply-touching first-hand account of growing up in the residential school system in BC and the immense impact that it has had on her life.  The presentation will conclude with a question-and-answer period and small-group discussion and debriefing.

Target Audience



Thursday 1:00 PM - 4:15 PM

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  • Adler University Vancouver
    William Nicholls-Allison

    • Dr Gillian Smith, PhD, CCC, CCC-S: a former school counsellor  and assistant professor of counselling psychology at Adler University will give a brief introduction to the shape of the time together (Introduction, film, IRSSS, and survivor/elder story and discussion/debriefing).
    • Wesley Scott: a counsellor and support worker with the Indian Residential School Survivors Society for the last three years.  His areas of expertise include trauma counselling, emotional support, and giving self-care workshops to Survivors and Intergenerational Survivors.
    • Gertie Pierre: a Survivor of the Indian Residential Schools system from Sechelt who helps others who have struggled with intergenerational trauma by sharing her story and her care. She is also a registered social worker who graduated from the University of British Columbia.
    • Masters of Counselling Psychology students from Adler University (including me!)