Truth and Reconciliation Commission

 I spent all of Friday at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in Victoria.  I was there to support a dear friend who wanted to make a statement for the commission’s record. Some of you might not know what a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is about, so let me explain. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are tasked with revealing past wrongdoing by a government or group…Think President Nelson Mandela after apartheid. But also think Canada and Indian Residential Schools. Indian Residential Schools are a shameful part of Canada’s history. Children as young as five were taken from their families with the stated aim to forcibly assimilate them.  They were denied their language, their culture and their families.  Many residential schools were  notorious for allegations of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse as well as neglect.

 

In 2008 the Canadian Government apologized to First Nations Peoples for the wrongs done to Aboriginal, Métis and Inuit peoples.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was tasked with taking statements from survivors and family members, creating a public record, and working toward reconciliation and a better future for Canada. It was difficult to be there. It was difficult to hear some of the horrific stories of survivors, difficult to hear how so many had turned to substance abuse to drown the memories of their residential school experiences.  It was difficult to hear of how such self-destructive behavior had in turn been so destructive to generations of families.  But, it was also healing. By sharing their stories, survivors were letting others help carry the load of pain, anger and hurt. Counselors and healers were on hand to offer amazing support.  By knowing and understanding our past, I hope we will be better equipped to go forward to a healthier future, a future that is respectful of cultural diversity.
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