A participant at a recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission event reads comments about the residential schools experience posted on a wall. Photo: Marites N. Sison
Inuvik—The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Northern National Event held here recently ended with, literally, many writings on the wall.
To make the event interactive, organizers had posted large sheets of paper around the walls of the Midnight Sun Complex, where the event was held, and asked former Indian residential school students, their families, church and government representatives, and the general public to share their thoughts on some issues.
One wall invited people to say why truth and reconciliation matters to them. Some responses on why “it matters to me”:
· Because it matters to you
· Because I want my grandchildren to have a better life
· Because I can finally live again
· Because I went through it; it can’t happen to me again.
· That the voices will be heard
· That we remain whole and healthy
· That you listen, really listen
· Because my mom suffered and my kids won’t
· To be educated by my country about the flawed and tragically impaired past so that we can all work towards healing as a nation.
A “Commemoration Wall” was also set up to honour former students who have died.
Following are some poignant remembrances:
· Remember my Dad, Robert, residential schools in Hay River, 1931−40s
· To my mom, I have come to peace with myself
· I love you, Ashisan, and I will come back for you
· Remembering all my residential school friends. Miss you all. Peace to you.
· Prayers for my lost aunties and uncles. We love and miss you.
· Loving memory of Charlie Adams. I miss you, my friend. Thank you for your songs.
· In loving memory of my mother who went to the dorm and had to become a servant girl there. May she rest in peace.
· To my younger brother that I never saw. I know I will recognize you when I return (to) heaven.
· To my friend who took care of me while we stayed in a residential school at Northwest River.
The writings will form part of the records of the TRC, which is mandated to gather the testimonies of former residential school students and their families, and to educate Canadians about the legacy of the residential schools system. The TRC is part of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement involving former students, the federal government and churches that administered the federally-funded schools in the 19th century. The historic agreement acknowledged the physical, emotional and sexual abuse suffered by some students at the schools, which were run by the Anglican, Roman Catholic, United and Presbyterian churches.
About 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Metis children were taken from their communities and made to attend the schools as part of the government’s policy of assimilation.
More than 1,000 people participated in the Northern event, held June 27 to July 1. The next TRC event is scheduled to take place this fall in Halifax.
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