We Are Still Here opens eyes to residential school abuse



Dwayne Cloes believes people have to get together and talk about what happened to Canada’s indigenous people.

Cloes is a Sarnia documentary producer who recently completed the film “We Are Still Here” for the United Church of Canada. It documents the experiences of three women from Walpole Island and Aamjiwnaang at residential schools.

Cloes says he was immediately interested in telling the story. “This was the chance to tell the story of such horrific events of the residential schools, I couldn’t possibly turn it down.”

As he researched the issue, he found there was so much he didn’t know, including how many people in this area were sent away.

“It happened right here in our own neighbourhood,” he says.

Cloes screened the film at Christ Church in Petrolia Sunday. It was the idea of his friend, Evelyn Ward de Roo. She had seen it before and knew it was powerful. She says it forced her to look deep within herself to see if she was racist. “I had to admit I live in white privilege.”

Ward de Roo wanted to make sure as many people as possible would see the film and organized the Petrolia event. She hopes it opens the eyes of the community so the healing can begin.

“We have to start educating people of white privilege that you can’t just tell residential school survivors to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They’re still here and we need to work with them.”

Cloes is hopeful his film will be widely viewed, especially in schools. He’s already working with the United Church on another film documenting the experiences of the children of survivors.


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