(formerly the Provincial Residential School Project)
What is a disclosure?
A disclosure is your story, told in your own words. Whether you are telling your story t pursue criminal charges, in a healing circle, in counseling, or to a civil lawyer, a disclosure will bring up the same feelings.
The Provincial Residential School Project is looking at alternate ways for First Nations to disclose about their experiences. If you wanted to make a statement "for the record" but not to the police, you would have an alternative that would take your concerns, culture and healing into account.Why Make a Disclosure after all this time?
There are many reasons why a survivor of residential school may want to make a disclosure about abuse that happened. Reasons may be:
To stop the cycle:
For some, attendance at residential schools has meant failed relationships, broken homes, inability to keep a job, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal feelings, loss of culture, loss of family history, loss of language, and so much more. A disclosure and the healing that can follow will make it less likely that these problems will be passed on to the next generation.
To start healing:
Some feel that healing will not occur until they have faced and spoken about what happened
To be heard:
Residential school forced us to be silent. We can speak out now so that what happened will not be forgotten. It may even be possible to charge the offender and get some form of "justice" or to get compensation.
When you look back at your life, a disclosure may help you understand why it has turned out the way it has. Understanding why you had to go to residential school may help you to take back some of the control which was stolen from you.
Whatever your reason for making a disclosure, you must be sure that you want to make it and that you do not feel pushed by others. The emotions that you may experience when you disclose can be overwhelming and can affect you more than you expect. So you should be sure and you should be prepared. The following may help you.Before You Make a Disclosure:
You will need emotional support through this process. Making a disclosure may make you feel as if you are right back in residential school:
You may not be able to sleep up to a week before the disclosure. Feelings of anxiety, shame and guilt may make you feel like you can't go through with it. Having some support can help you. Make sure that you have:
Make sure that you have a supporter during the statement to sit outside and wait for you. Use local victim service or community centre volunteers if you are unable to find someone. This person should stay with you all day afterward.
You may feel many things during the disclosure. There is no right way or wrong way to feel. You may feel:
Whatever you feel is okay. It is your mind and body trying to cope with the experience of having to go back. It is okay to cry, to take your time. Remember that the officer is experienced and understands that what you have to say is painful for you.After the Disclosure:
You will need longer term help : counselling, a spiritual teacher, etc. Set your first appointment before you make your disclosure so that you can get to know your supporter. You should make a plan about your future healing journey (the Residential School Project may be able to help you with this). Facing residential school is a process. Making a disclosure is only one step.
Once you have made the disclosure, make sure that you do something to "bring yourself back" from being in the school. Right away you may feel like crying. Go with your support person and release the immediate emotions somewhere safe. Then do something that you like to do, such as:
You may not feel like it, but you need to focus some of your attention on the present because it may be difficult to leave the experience of having been in the past.
For some time afterwards, you might feel so alone that you will think no one can touch you. You might feel like you are floating in a sea of blackness and that you will never find your way out. You might feel tired and drained for a few days. Some feelings you might experience are: anger, fear, sadness, happiness, and suicidal. It is possible to find your way out but it is easier and faster if you seek help.
Please make sure you have your supports in place.
Making a Disclosure