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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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First Nations University Social Work Grad, Residential School Survivor Dedicating Life To Reconciliation
by Cory Coleman, CBC News
'It's a lifelong process and I think the healing will continue,' says Clayton Lorne Green
Clayton Lorne Green is receiving the President's Medal, Silver Academic Achievement Award and Faculty of Social Work Dean's Award. (photo by Merelda Fiddler)

When Clayton Lorne Green convocates from the First Nations University of Canada on Friday, he'll be bringing home an armful of awards — but the accomplishments didn't come easily.

A residential school survivor and recipient of the coveted President's Medal for demonstrating strong leadership and academic excellence, the 54-year-old plans to dedicate his life to healing and reconciliation through social work.

'The sound of silence was so deafening.'
- Clayton Lorne Green

Green, a member of the Samson (Nipisihkopahk) Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alta., spent seven years at the Ermineskin Indian Residential School.

"My story is similar to many former students' experiences," Green told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition host Sheila Coles.

"The sound of silence was so deafening," he said. "There was no one there to provide any comfort. You just had to grin and bear it."

Healing himself and community

Because of his experiences at residential school, Green has dedicated the last 30 years to healing himself and his community.

  • He has been a Resolution Health Support Worker for the past eight years, offering emotional support to residential school survivors and their families.
  • He sits on the board of directors with the Remembering the Children Society, an organization dedicated to honouring children who died in residential schools.
  • He is chairman of the Building Bridges working group, and has sat on planning committees and listening circles for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • He also organized a commemoration walk and ceremony for a men's support group for residential school survivors.

Green said there's still a lot of work to do for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to reach reconciliation.

'If you don't forgive,
you can't move forward.'
- Clayton Lorne Green

"For non-Indigenous people, they have to get to know us. Right now, I'm aware that they have little to next-to-nothing knowledge about us, and they need to make the effort to get to know us because we have a lot to offer," said Green.

"But I also believe that us as Indigenous people have to reconcile with ourselves and amongst each other."

Green said forgiveness is a major part of reconciliation.

"If you don't forgive, you can't move forward; you stay stuck in anger and resentments."

On top of the President's Medal, Green is graduating with a bachelor's degree in Indigenous social work with a Silver Academic Achievement Award. Green also won the Faculty of Social Work Dean's Award.

Green hopes his accomplishments inspire other Indigenous people to pursue their educational goals.

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