SLEEPING CHILDREN AWAKE (Full Version) (©1991)…


Date: July 13, 2021

01) LINK

“Sleeping Children Awake (SCA) was shot in 1991 and televised in 1992. It was one of the earliest independant, feature length documentaries to be broadcast on the crucial subject of the Residential School System . SCA won several awards including “Best Canadian Documentary 1993” (CanPro) and was screened at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s national events held in Winnipeg, Manitoba 2010, and Saskatchewan 2012.

Residential Schools operated in Canada from the 1800’s until 1996. These schools were a primary weapon of the government and the missionaries in their attempt to systematically destroy Native culture. Generations of First Nations people have been scarred from the affects of that policy.

Grand Chief Phil Fontaine (a residential school survivor) said, “The first step in healing is disclosure.”

In this spirit, “Sleeping Children Awake” illuminates the voices of the many former residents and their families, including Elijah Harper (M.P.) and the late Art Solomon ( Elder, Author).

These recollections and experiences are bridged with dramatic excerpts from Shirley Cheechoo’s autobiographical play, “Path with No Moccasins”. Shirley shares an emotional account of her experiences in residential school, a subsequent destructive lifestyle and her journey back into wholeness.

The documentary features the songs of Maria Linklater and artwork of various accomplished artists.

“Sleeping Children Awake” is both a personal record of this nations’ history and a tribute to the enduring strength of Native Cultures.”

2:00…”When I was a young kid all I wore was moccasins, til I went away to residential school. When I got to residential school, everything was taken away from me…my sexuality…my culture…my language…my family…the whole…this is like being put in a box and you can’t move.” – Shirley Cheechoo

There used to be a day, where one could talk about these things out in the open…and it was a day, not so terribly long ago…a day when we imagined, the ice was nearly ready to melt…and the seized voices about to be free…and the settlement with reality about to take place.

Today…we still have masses who keep their heads down…non-empathic drones who shout down the outliers, chanting the lies they’ve been ordered to think and repeat…They remain so utterly divorced from being human…from psychologically existing in true reality.

This may sound like I am disheartened…

…I am not…I simply recognize all the work in front of us.

…But we have something which the psychologically neutered do not…

…We still have our natural connection, to understand what being human means.

…The Spark Remains.

It’s when you realize the depths of depravity, within the atrocities the powerful are willing to inflict upon the powerless…that you cannot remain silent any longer.

Note: Yes…I realize the reference to sexuality taken away from Shirley Cheechoo as a child, is vague…It’s unclear if this is a reference to being sexually abused by the people keeping and tormenting her…or if her own sexual identity and expression [something which was much more open and free in Native Indian culture] had been suppressed, and turned into an internalized psychological shame [as christian organizations are notorious for doing].


4 thoughts on “SLEEPING CHILDREN AWAKE (Full Version) (©1991)…

  1. feinmann

    In order to enforce loyalty to the state, the Khmer Rouge broke people’s ties to religion and family. All political and civil rights were abolished. Formal education ceased and from 1977, all children from the age of eight were separated from their parents and placed in labour camps, which taught them that the state was their true parents. For the Khmer Rouge, children were central to the revolution as they believed they could easily be moulded, conditioned and indoctrinated.

    Humanity is best described as inhumanity.

    Shirley Cheechoo’s comment you reference is vague. I suspect in an environment devoid of love and replete with indifference, overt physical and sexual abuse, a girl child learns to both loath the touch of any other human being and be incapable of being tactile.

  2. feinmann

    I suspect European colonisation did its best to impose heteronormative behaviour upon all native indians within a framework of christian orthodoxy. Sex solely as a means to procreate, and hell and damnation the result if anyone was perceived to have enjoyed it.

    Such enforced frigidity would have eradicated all vestiges of existing native sexual mores and sexual behaviour. I would imagine historically, feminine native boys and masculine native girls would have been accepted for who/what they were, and be assigned appropriate roles within the tribe. It is sad to note that when one googles native child sexuality, all you get are links describing childhood sexual abuse.

    1. eqfoundation Post author

      That’s one of the biggest problems, about finding anything alternative about something cultures are negatively obsessed with…you’re left drowning in a sea of dogmatic overload, and cannot find anything else.


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