In a time where sexual allegations against people of power such as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein are making headlines, we are slowly stepping in the right direction on calling those people out. There seems to be no justice that is served for people who have been sexually abused even after when we finally sentence those predators. The damage becomes permanent to the victims and this could not be more prevalent than in the documentary film In Jesus’ Name: Shattering the Silence of St. Anne’s Residential School which closed out the Reelworld Film Festival in Toronto. Director Sue Enberg breaks the silence as to what happened to the indigenous students who interned at St. Anne’s Residential School in Fort Albany First Nation, Ontario. The stories that these courageous survivors have shared with us many years later are truly horrific and shocking. This is what is known as cultural genocide and there is no reason for this to happen at any time and to any one. It is embarrassing that even in our own backyard that a so called Catholic school and its constituents back in the 1960s were forcing indigenous students to eat horse meat, conducting sexual abuse and even electrocuting them on an electric chair. It begs the question of why did we let this happen?
It saddens us here on FERNTV when we were listening to these stories by the survivors of St. Anne’s throughout the film because these are dark experiences that will never go away. The sadness deepens when the audience comes to realize that when children don’t understand what is happening to them and not able to defend themselves when sexual abuse is conducted. The survivors of St. Anne’s are true heroes because they live to tell their story today even after having themselves and their race humiliated. Edmund Metatawabin who is a survivor of St. Anne’s, an advocate for St. Anne’s Survivors in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and producer of this film says that his feet where not able to touch the floor when he was electrocuted and the Grey Nuns or the Oblates of Mary Immaculate would stand there and watch and laugh. This point in itself enrages us here on FERNTV that the Canadian Government does not believe these allegations from survivors of St. Anne’s. Why would anyone make up such a story and if they did what would they be trying to prove?
It is as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Edmund Metatawabin and the rest of the survivors of St. Anne’s to have the government release documents stating that this had occurred in this notoriously violent school in Fort Albany. Sure there may have been a couple of convictions of former staff but that does not justify the anguish that these people had to live with from when they were children to the point in their lives today. This also puts another dent in the practices of Catholicism which already has been getting a bad rap. Sure The Keepers on Netflix is quite shocking and we being Canadian may say that only happens in America but what happened in St. Anne’s Residential School is vile and inhuman and unfortunately in our own country. Director Sue Enberg has to be given much praise in putting this documentary together and getting the survivors of St. Anne’s to speak of the horrors because these types of practices at any level should not occur again. Having a conversation isn’t enough, action must be taken which is why In Jesus’ Name is very moving.