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Students at Lejac Residential School

First Nations students were mistreated.

First Nations students were taken away from their families to the Lejac Residential School on Stuart Lake, starting in 1923. When the school opened, children were glad to have the opportunity to learn, says Lheidli T'enneh elder Ron Seymour.

Students discovered the price was higher than they dreamed. The students were segregated by sex and age so students couldn't talk to their brothers and sisters for months at a time.

Corporal punishment - hitting children across the palms with a three foot willow switch was a common form of punishment at the school. Melanie Quaw, from Stoney Creek, died after a severe beating at Lejac. In 1937 four boys ran away from the school and froze to death. A coroner's inquest was called and its verdict demanded that the practice of excessive corporal punishment should be curtailed.

Decades later, a new administration ended the abuses. Afterwards the school was closed.

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