First we must forgive ourselves and then forgive others’

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A little boy finds inspiration in the drumming at the second national TRC event in Inuvik. Photo: Marites N. Sison
A little boy finds inspiration in the drumming at the second national TRC event in Inuvik. Photo: Marites N. Sison
SPECIAL REPORT

For more information on the TRC, go to www.anglican.ca/trc

Inuvik-On Monday night (Jun. 27) Northwest Territories leaders rallied former Indian residential schools students around a common theme of hope, strength and moving toward a better future as they welcomed them to the northern event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

“We’re coming back at a time and place where we can be stronger…Yes, there will be tears of sadness, but hopefully, there will be tears of joy,” said Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland.

Some survivors have talked about the tremendous guilt they feel about having introduced violence into their own homes as a consequence of suffering sexual and/or physical abuse at residential schools. Roland urged former students to reflect on the choices that they make in life and the impact on future generations. “It is a choice to let forgiveness happen,” said Roland, who spent time as a young boy at Stringer Hall, an Anglican-run boarding school here. “First we must forgive ourselves and then forgive others,” he said, reminding former students of the lasting friendships that were forged in the absence of family. “We found friends we can count on,” he said.

In welcoming ceremonies at the Chief Jim Koe Park, a representative from the Gwich’in Tribal Council urged former students to take the necessary steps to move forward saying, “We have suffered enough. We can’t allow future generations to suffer.”

Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the TRC, said he was particularly struck by a statement made by a residential school survivor that, “at some point we have to stop walking into our future backwards, we have to be able to turn around, look forward and talk about it.”

About 1,200 delegates–former students, their families, and representatives of churches and government who are party to the Indian Residential Schools Agreement–attended a community feast that featured baked Arctic char. The feast was sponsored by northern aboriginal groups: the Inuvialuit Regional Corp.; the Gwitch’in Tribal Council; Dene Nation; Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Kitikmeot Inuit Association; and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Later, amid blustery winds and cool temperatures, participants were treated to a cultural presentation that included a lively dance and drumming by the McKenzie Delta Drummers and Dancers from Yellowknife.

The TRC northern event is one of seven national events being held to document the personal stories of former residential schools students and promote healing and reconciliation.

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