Memorial forms in front of the steps of the former Brantford boarding school

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BRANTFORD –

Shoes, stuffed animals and never-to-forget promises could be seen on the steps of a former Brantford boarding school on National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

The building is now the Woodland Cultural Center, intended to preserve and promote Indigenous history, art, language and culture, but was formerly the Mohawk Institute which operated from 1831 to 1970.

The center was closed Thursday because it was running virtual programming, but many came to pay homage and add items to the growing memorial.

Geronimo Henry, a residential school survivor, was also outside.

He was at the Mohawk Institute from 1942 to 1953 and has come to the field regularly since the discovery of unmarked graves in former residential schools to speak with people and answer their questions.

He says that while it is significant to see so many people paying homage, more needs to be done.

“Deep inside I’m still hurting like it’s yesterday, it’s not going away,” Henry said. “The government needs to do more than just book you a day. What will it do? Will this cure me? Will it make me 11 years back? I lost my language and my culture and my own right to believe in what I believe in.

Plans have been made to search the grounds of the property in the future.


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