Julia Sylvester attends school at the University of Wisconsin River Falls for elementary education with a minor in sociology. She was one of seven students who visited the National Indigenous Residential School Museum in Keeshkeemaquah Village.
She explains what it was like to learn what hasn't really been made known in the U.S. about residential school children and the abuse they experienced.
"We heard about it and we read about it, and it just isn't the same as hearing it from the person, the survivors, themselves," says Sylvester. "Just walking into this building, you could feel the pain. And knowing what had happened was something that I don't think any of us could have expected to feel because we were going to a museum. We've been to museums, but nothing like this."
She says that when they sat and listened, while honoured to meet with survivors, it was unforgettable.
"One of them had said we're probably the last generation that is going to get this experience to hear from actual survivors," adds Sylvester. "That is just so important that we were able to hear those stories and, hopefully, can tell their stories, get that out there, and ensure that what happened is being truthful and sharing it with everyone."
She adds it was a crazy experience seeing as they just don't talk about this in the States.
"As someone who is going into education, I just want as much knowledge as I can to be able to share that with others who don't get the same experiences that I had coming here. I'm grateful for everyone who has given us their time, their stories, and I hope that I can be able to share it with other people and so then they can really know what happened here. "
Kenzie Larson will be a double major in criminology and sociology.
"It was heavy. We, as Julia talked about, don't really talk about it in the States as much," says Larson. "Being able to get some more information on it, read books related to it, and actually interact with the people that went through this."
She says she doesn't think she could be more grateful for anything compared to being here and giving her time and help to the museum to create a community garden with vegetables going to the elders of the First Nation.
"This is something that I know I'm going to remember for the rest of my life, and I can come back here 50 years from now and be able to acknowledge the fact that I was here," adds Larson. "I did something to help and I was able to help the community in some way, shape, or form, which is just the most gratifying thing possible. Being able to give back and knowing that the indigenous folks are really appreciating this."