SEPTEMBER 22, 1935


Born in the Mi’kmaq community of Millbrook, she was sent to the Shubenacadie residential school in 1945 after her mother was told that if she did not consent, the child welfare system would take her children into “protective custody.”  In 1955, Nora married a non-native man and lost her legal status under the Indian Act.  Despite her loss of status, in 1995, Bernard began an organization to represent survivors of the Shubenacadie school and convinced Halifax lawyer John McKiggan to bring a class-action suit.  Soon, other survivors’ associations filed similar suits that were eventually amalgamated into one national lawsuit.  In 2005, Nora testified before the House of Commons of Canada about the abuse children suffered in residential schools.  That same year, the Canadian government settled the lawsuit for upwards of 5 billion dollars.  Sadly, she was murdered by her grandson on December 26, 2007, in Truro, Nova Scotia.  In 2008, Bernard was posthumously awarded the Order of Nova Scotia.

Sources:  John McKiggan, “A Tribute to Nora Bernard,” McKiggan Hebert Lawyers.  Retrieved 7/14/2020,
Photo:  Author and date unknown.  Roman Catholic Indian Residential School, [Fort] Resolution, Northwest Territories.  Permissive Use.  Source:

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