Shared truths and revealing testimonies.
Those were the intended elements put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when it began the first of its Northern hearings in Nunavik, NWT.
One month later, on April 14, the hearings paid a visit to Yellowknife to offer residential school survivors a chance to share their experiences.
“It is important that we come away with a better understanding of the lingering impacts of Residential Schools in northern communities,” stated TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson in a press release.
“(This needs to happen) in order to lay the groundwork that will move us beyond the truth telling of experiences to revealing gestures of reconciliation.”
The tour will be making 19 stops across the territory before the panel’s second national gathering in Inuvik from June 28 to July 1.
The panel is hoping to see both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people attend hearings.
“The Northern hearings are an opportunity for Residential School survivors,” said TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair in a press release.
“(They) might not otherwise be able to come to us, to speak up, be heard and inform the Commission and Canadians of the unique experiences of children who attended Residential Schools in Canada’s North.”
Aside from allowing residential school survivors a forum, statements will be gathered from survivors who share their stories.
The TRC is a mandate of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to provide Canadians the 150 year history of Residential Schools.
The schools, run by churches, were established in order to assimilate young Aboriginal people into an establishing Canadian society.
Many students weren’t allowed to speak their native languages or practice their own culture while attending schools.
Some students experienced physical, mental, and psychological abuse at the schools.
Nine residential schools existed across the Northwest Territories until as late as 1970.
Hay River’s Anglican Indian Residential School, known as St. Peter’s Indian Residential School, was closed in 1949.
Aside from the current Northern hearings, the TRC process will unfold across the territories over the next four years.
The next set of hearings will take place in Fort Providence on April 26 and 27 at Deh G’ah Elementary and Secondary School.
On April 28 the hearings will be held in Fort Resolution at Deninoo School.
The Fort Smith hearings will be held at the Recreation Centre on May 6, before the process heads back up North to Tulita and Aklavik.
Towards the end of May, the TRC will be visiting the Yukon territory wrapping up the tour.
For more information on the TRC and the Northern hearings schedule, visit www.trc.ca or call 1-888-TRC-5554.