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Truth and Reconciliation Commission comes to a close Tuesday June 2 2015 21 JUSTICE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS DONT LET SAFETY TAKE A HOLIDAY Wear a life jacket during Water Safety Week and anytime youre on the water. Fort Smith Paddling Club encourages you to be safe on the water at all times. 926 MACKENZIE HIGHWAY HAY RIVER NT 867-874-2771 Toll Free 1-866-327-0717 By DALI CARMICHAEL Over the past six years the Truth and Rec- onciliation Commission of Canada TRC has collected more than 7000 testimonies from residential school survivors recounting the suffering they endured for more than a century as they were taken away from their families as children. It was tting then that about 7000 people ockedtotheOttawaregiononSundaytopar- ticipateinawalkforreconciliationastheman- date of the TRC prepared to come to a close. As much as I already knew about residen- tial school - both from my own long reporting experience but also from my own family and my extended family and where Ive lived and travelled in the North for a long time - it was an awakening as it has been for all of us to the enormity of this history to the enormity of the impactoftheschoolsandtotheextenttowhich the silence around it all has been crippling our whole country said TRC commissioner Dr. Marie Wilson who calls Yellowknife home. Afront-rowwitnesstotheresearchconducted by the TRC over the last six years Wilson in- dicated she was profoundly impacted by the work of the commission and those involved. It has been just so uplifting she said. There have been so many examples rst of all among the survivors of amazingly hard work people have done to try to heal them- selves and others that they care about and their relationships. Some of that we saw un- folding before our eyes at our hearings. At the same time uplifting as well in that some of the expressions and actions of reconciliation are comingfromthenon-indigenouscommunity. Thousands of testimonies and millions of documents have been collected by the TRC as evidence of the crimes committed against over 150000 indigenous residential school children from the 1880s to when the last resi- dential school closed in 1996. The commission was initiated as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agree- ment the result of one of the largest class- action suits ever taken out against Canada initiated by residential school survivors. A report combining the research gathered and suggestions for reaching reconciliation in the future - said to be about 300 pages long - is to be released by the TRC on June 2. Itsaysthatinourmandate-acourt-ordered mandate we shouldnt forget that - reconcili- ation is in fact an ongoing process Wilson said.Itinvolvesthegovernmentandthechurch and the survivors and everybody who worked at the schools but also the people of Canada. We cant forget that thats all of us. To that end all of the ndings from the TRC will be held in a new national centre for truth and reconciliation set to open at the Univer- sity of Manitoba in Winnipeg in the near fu- ture.Partnerportalsinfriendshipcentresand post-secondaryinstitutionswillallowtheinfor- mation to be easily shared across the country. Weve invested in almost 80 new TRC hon- ourary witnesses Wilson said. Some former prime ministers governors general auditors generalnationalchiefsand heads of the union organizations and a whole lot of judges and lawyers and artists authors broadcasters - people from many many sectors - and weve engaged with them all and made efforts to deepentheirunderstandingofthestory.Weve seen from them their commitments they will continuethisworkbytalkingandsharingtheir understanding with the people they have met and they associate with. Just as the closing ceremonies were kick- ing off Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin made a statement Friday morning claimingthatCanadaattemptedtocommitcul- tural genocide against its Aboriginal peoples. This did not escape Wilsons attention. WhatIthinkissignicantiswhenyouhave somebody who is a safeguarder of the highest law in our land and you have ordinary folks from some of the most impoverished commu- nitiesinthecountrysayingthesamethingand using some of the same language - that what happened was a cultural genocide - I think as a country we need to stop and pay attention Wilson said. Its a rare thing that you have a growing consensus around something as big asthat.Thequestionbecomeswecannotundo what has happened we cant change the past so what do we do with the present Because we are all accountable for that. NWT teaching reconciliation tactics to Canada Minister Jackson Lafferty represented the NWT at the closing ceremonies walk- ing with survivors through Gatineau Que. to Ottawas downtown core before meeting with a host of the countrys leaders to dis- cuss ways to move forward from the TRC. At the end of June the territory will be hosting both a Council of Ministers of Ed- ucation Canada CMEC meeting as well as an Aboriginal education symposium. There ECE and its partners from Nunavut will present their residential school cur- riculum to the countrys leaders in educa- tion as recommended by the TRC. We have the highest rate of residential school survivors per capita in the NWT so were quite unique Lafferty said. We are the first jurisdiction - NWT and Nunavut - to develop the first of its kind residential school curriculum about three years ago. My message to my colleagues across Canada - education ministers - will be resi- dential school curriculum should be intro- duced from kindergarten to Grade 12 and be mandatory such as we did in Grade 10. Then moving forward to post-secondary it should be included in the first year of teachers education programs. Walking for reconciliation in Yellowknife Both indigenous and non-indigenous people gathered for community walks for reconciliation in areas outside of Ottawa including Yellowknife. Speakers addressed the crowd in between group dances and drum performances adding a celebratory mood to the event. It was to recognize students here the North and the people who have been working on this for close to four decades working to get recognition for the impact of residential schools said Gail Cyr ex- ecutive director of the Native Womens Association of the Northwest Territories which organized the event. People here were really thankful. PhotoBenPowless Police estimate that about 7000 people participated in the Reconciliation Walk in Ottawa this past Sunday to commemorate the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Comission.