How this Mohawk residential school survivor is passing her language down to the next generation
A TV version of this story will air Friday at 5 p.m. on CTV Kitchener as part of our National Day for Truth and Reconciliation special. It will also be available online following the broadcast.
Warning: This story contains disturbing details
Diane Hill’s painful memories of the Mohawk Institute residential school include one she learned decades later from her father.
“When he found out we were there, he came to get us,” she says, recalling how he father told her burst in the door of the institution.
“He said, ‘I’m Harry Hill and I’m here for my kids.’”
A woman there told him his children had been sent to another school that morning.
“And dad left,” Hill says. “I remember when he told us that, my dad cried and he said ‘I did my best.’”
“But I always think of that, what if he got us? We were there. We were never sent anywhere, we weren’t sent away. We were there.”
Before Hill and her siblings were forced to attend to the school – called the “Mush Hole” by Six Nations people because of the food there – she came from a home rich in Indigenous language.
Her father spoke five of the six Haudenosaunee languages. Her mother spoke one, Mohawk.
“When we went into the residential school, it was forbidden,” she says. “We were punished severely."
That punishment was hard to forget when the kids returned home and their mother encouraged them to continue speaking Mohawk.
“You start to look around,” she says “Are they coming?”
In 1986, Hill started volunteering with First Language Academy and taught Mohawk at the immersion school until she retired last November.
“Our languages belong to the kids," she says. "That’s identity.”
For thirty years, Hill has worked to protect the once forbidden language and watch it grow with each coming generation.
Hearing kids speak to her in Mohawk is her greatest enjoyment.
“They’ve done the work, all I did was deliver it,” she says.
Support for is available for residential school survivors and those affected by the ongoing legacy of residential schools.
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can be reached 24-hours a day, 7-days a week at 1-866-925-4419.
Kitchener Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Humanity at risk: AI pioneer urges federal government to regulate faster
One of the so-called godfathers of artificial intelligence says governments need to move faster on regulations to protect against the dangers of the rapidly advancing technology, before it poses a larger threat to humanity.
Jan. 6 rioters are raking in thousands in donations. Now the U.S. is coming after their haul
Less than two months after he pleaded guilty to storming the U.S. Capitol, Texas resident Daniel Goodwyn appeared on Tucker Carlson's then-Fox News show and promoted a website where supporters could donate money to Goodwyn and other rioters whom the site called 'political prisoners.'
Venice police investigate bright green liquid in Grand Canal
Police in Venice are investigating the source of a phosphorescent green liquid patch that appeared Sunday in the city's famed Grand Canal.
Running through middle age can keep brain healthy and neurons wired: study
Exercising as you age can help maintain memory and fight cognitive decline, according to a new study.
Prediabetes: The younger you are, the higher the risk of dementia
People who develop prediabetes when they’re younger are likely to have a higher risk for dementia in later life, a new U.S. study has found.
'We have an influence': How some Canadians are inspiring others to focus on the environment
From actions in their local communities to mass demonstrations, here's how Canadians from all walks of life are inspiring others to take part in helping the environment.
South Korean arrested for opening plane emergency exit door, faces up to 10 years in prison
A man who opened an emergency exit door during a flight in South Korea was formally arrested Sunday and faces up to 10 years in prison on a charge of violating the aviation security law, officials said.
Jewish groups and city officials plan protest against Roger Waters concert in Frankfurt
Several Jewish groups, politicians and an alliance of civil society groups are planning a memorial ceremony and a protest rally against a concert by Roger Waters in Frankfurt on Sunday evening.
Attorney for 11-year-old Mississippi boy shot by police says there's 'no way' he could have been mistaken for an adult
An attorney for an 11-year-old Mississippi boy who was shot by a police officer after he called 911 for help said Thursday there was 'no way' the boy could have been mistaken for an adult.
Free parking to now cost $200 per month as Webster St. apartment ‘renoviction’ saga continues
There is a new chapter in the “renoviction” saga at Webster Street apartments in London, Ont.
Vehicle crashes into house, severs gas line
A large emergency response was seen in the north end of London, Ont. Friday night after a driver allegedly ran their truck into a house.
Taking steps to help combat cognitive loss
Walks were held across the London region Saturday, raising funds to support programs and services offered by the Alzheimer Societies.
One person in hospital following collision involving motorcycle
A motorcycle rider is in hospital with serious injuries following a sing-vehicle collision Saturday afternoon.
Fire crews battle blaze in the city's east end
Wyandotte Street East between Lawrence Road and Raymo Road has reopened following a fire in the area.
Fatal collision devastates a community, youth hockey player charged with assault, teen charged in gun incident: Top Windsor stories this week
A devastating collision end the lives of three young adults, a Windsor dad said he’s frustrated his 12-year-old son has been charged with assault, and a teenager was arrested for allegedly bringing a gun to school.
All cats rescued, donations needed after fire at Oro-Medonte animal shelter
After a devastating fire at an Oro-Medonte animal shelter, all missing cats have been accounted for.
Ontario police reveal new development in Elnaz Hajtamiri abduction investigation
Ontario Provincial Police arrested a fourth suspect in connection to the alleged kidnapping of Elnaz Hajtamiri, the Ontario woman who disappeared in January 2022.
4 people hospitalized trying to rescue cats in Oro-Medonte shelter fire
Several people have been hospitalized with smoke inhalation after trying to save multiple animals from a fire at a cat shelter on Shanty Bay Road in Oro-Medonte.
Team Canada hockey players Marie-Philip Poulin and Laura Stacey engaged
Celebrated Team Canada hockey players Marie-Philip Poulin and Laura Stacey have announced their engagement.
Two ‘aggressive’ hitchhikers on Hwy. 17 charged
Ontario Provincial Police have charged two people following reports of hitchhikers displaying aggressive behaviour along the Highway 17 East corridor in Kenora.
Ontario community battles to keep emergency department from closing for good
A community in Ontario’s cottage country is facing the permanent closure of its local hospital's Emergency Room.
Ottawa to begin spraying and mowing wild parsnip in suburban and rural areas
The city of Ottawa will begin spraying and mowing roadsides, pathways and parks this week to deal with wild parsnip, the invasive plant that can cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to burning and blistering.
A hot and sunny Sunday in Ottawa
It's going to be hot and sunny in Ottawa as the annual marathon and half-marathon take over downtown streets.
96-year-old sets new world record in Ottawa Race Weekend 5K
Rejeanne Fairhead ran her way into the Guinness World Records on the opening day of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.
BREAKING | SIU investigating after two people killed in Stoney Creek
Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has been called following an interaction with a man believed to be responsible for a double homicide in Stoney Creek.
Victim rushed to hospital following early morning stabbing in downtown Toronto
One person was rushed to hospital following an early morning stabbing in downtown Toronto.
Animal advocates call for alternatives to coyotes, foxes in Ontario dog training areas
Advocates are hoping the Ontario government will consider alternatives to the use of wild animals in off-leash dog areas for the purpose of tracking as officials push forward with a proposal to expand training areas in the province.
'Pay attention': Family of struck Montreal 10 year old pleads with motorists to drive safely
The family of a 10-year-old girl who was hit by a car almost two weeks ago is appealing drivers and pedestrians to be more careful on Montreal’s roads. Kyaa Guinto is still in a coma at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “She’s slowly come out of the induced coma, she’s moving her hands, she was able to squeeze our hands, and we’re waiting patiently,” said her mother, Stephanie Ledesma.
WATCH: Baby falcons hatching atop Montreal tower
It's a joyous day for Eve, resident falcon at the Université de Montreal: her babies are hatching. The event is being live-streamed on Sunday from a nest box atop the 23rd floor of a tower on campus.
Second Montreal business targeted by arson attack this weekend
A Montreal business was targeted by an arson attack for the second day in a row, this time in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough. Police say a 911 call was made just before 5 a.m. Sunday. By the time SPVM officers arrived, firefighters had put out the flames at the bakery on Charles de la Tour Street, near Antonio-Barbeau Street.
Wildfire near Goose Lake, N.S. burning out of control
A sizeable wildfire is burning out of control in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia.
N.B. premier calls for calm amid review of policy on sexual orientation in schools
New Brunswick's premier is calling for calm as the province launches a contentious review of a policy on sexual orientation in schools.
Man shot and killed by police in Dartmouth, HRP refer shooting to SiRT
A man is dead after being shot by police in Dartmouth during an incident Saturday morning.
RCMP investigating possible drowning at Whiteshell Provincial Park
A Winnipeg boy may have drowned at Whiteshell Provincial Park, according to RCMP.
'Right tree, right place': The work Winnipeg is doing to restore its tree canopy
The City of Winnipeg’s annual push to restore its tree canopy is underway.
Five fire departments respond to Friday night scrapyard blaze
Firefighters in the RM of Springfield were busy Friday night, taking on a scrapyard fire involving molten metal into the early morning hours.
Alberta NDP holds rally in Calgary, UCP talks about crime, mental health supports
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley held a major rally in downtown Calgary Saturday morning, while her United Conservative rival had no public events planned this weekend after a final pitch to voters a day earlier.
Russia launched 'largest drone attack' on Ukrainian capital before Kyiv Day; 1 killed
Ukraine's capital was subjected to the largest drone attack since the start of Russia's war, local officials said, as Kyiv prepared to mark the anniversary of its founding on Sunday. At least one person was killed.
Police seeking information regarding Friday night hit-and-run in northeast Calgary
Calgary police are investigating a hit-and-run in the northeast community of Renfrew.
Wildfire danger remains high in northern Alberta, but firefighters making progress
The number of wildfires burning in Alberta's protected forest areas has continued to drop.
'It was just adorable': Grade 1 students surprise departing firefighters with special goodbye gifts
An Edmonton Grade 1 class was at the Edmonton International Airport Saturday to give a crew of wildland firefighters handmade thank-you cards and wish them well on their way back to New Brunswick.
'More connected': Researchers looking at growing food under solar panels
Lawns, backyards and roofs could be used to produce both solar power and fresh vegetables, University of Alberta researchers say.
‘A crime of passion’: Bizarre B.C. bakery break-in caught on camera
The owner of a cake shop in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighbourhood braced for the worst when she found her store had been broken into Friday morning. But what she found captured by a security camera was a break-in beyond her wildest imagination.
Brazen shooting prompts Mounties to host public outreach event
Ten days after shots rang out at a busy Coquitlam shopping complex in broad daylight, Coquitlam RCMP held a public outreach event to address public concerns.
Several multiple sclerosis drugs covered by Pharmacare in every province except B.C.
Deborah Stefanek's doctor recommended she take a new medication called Kisempta to treat her relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. She was shocked to learn every province in Canada covers Kisempta under their Pharmacare plans except B.C.