Yukon News

Recording Residential School

Roxanne Stasyszyn Monday January 17, 2011

Ian Stewart/Yukon News


Pauline Sidney, right, is comforted by a friend while speaking about her residential school experience after hearing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to First Nations in June 2008.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants to establish a museum for Canada’s residential schools.

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Canadian aboriginal communities for more than two decades of forced assimilation of First Nation’s culture through the 130 schools.

The fallout of that federal-sanctioned policy has affected generations of people.

A year after the apology, Harper signed the settlement agreement which established the five-year mandated Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Its job is to educate Canadians about what happened to the estimated 200, 000 aboriginal Canadians forced to attend the schools.

The commission has been touring communities and holding events to gather and record peoples’ own stories, memories, artifacts and art.

Last week, the commission announced it wants to house all this material in a research centre.

In March, experts and survivors will gather in Vancouver to decide what the centre should look like and how it should work.

“It will be a permanent resource to educate all Canadians on what happened,” said commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild on Wednesday, before inviting researchers, students, leaders and survivors to attend.

The Vancouver forum is a chance to hear from experts on the best way to do this, he said.

And while little has been decided about how to go about creating this centre, a glance at the agenda and speaker list gives clues about the intended direction.

The speakers are coming from a wide variety of countries – South Africa, Rwanda, east Timor, Serbia and numerous countries in Latin America – that share one thing, a genocide or ethnocide in their history.

The proposed Canadian residential school centre will show the personal history and experiences of residential school students and how the system was, in fact, conducting an ethnocide.

“I can’t see much basis for it helping in anyway,” said Chuck Hume, a residential school survivor from the Champagne/Aishihik First Nations.

He now works as a resolution health support worker with the Council of Yukon First Nations, helping other survivors accept their past so they can deal with their future.

“You got to remember a lot of that material that’s given out is quite confidential and I think it should be kept in kind of a private way,” he said.

Personal accounts of kidnap, psychological, physical and sexual abuse tend to take over most of the commission’s visits and gatherings.

If survivors’ children wish to read about this in their family members’ own words, for example, that should be made possible, said Hume.

The forum is set to take place at the Sheraton Wall Centre from March 1 through to the 3.

Information and registration is available on the commission’s website at http://www.trc.ca.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


TheDoc wrote:
6:28pm Wednesday January 19, 2011

What else can be done you ask? How about stopping the ongoing forced assimilation. There have been no changes in Canadian legislation to include aboriginal rights as equal to colonial rights. What about starting there? We also have the fact that residential schools were replaced by forced provincial/territorial educations systems. Maybe we could start with real education systems for aboriginal people that teach their culture and traditional knowledge FIRST. Maybe we could find out what happened to the missing women. After all, aboriginal women dissappeared at a statistically increased rate ov about 11,000 per cent. I could go on and on but it would be to no avail. People seem to think lip service from the Prime Minister, a sham of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (remember it is “court ordered”) and throwing money at something will sweep things under the carpet. Nothing has changed and nothing will because there will be no closure without accountability or justice.

kathlojo wrote:
12:56pm Tuesday January 18, 2011

As with the holocaust, I believe that this ethnocide attempt should be in our school curriculums so that we may all learn from past mistakes and be aware of the repercussion it has, and still has on our First Nations people. A museum is a good start to educating Canadians about what happened.

risingsun48 wrote:
11:42pm Monday January 17, 2011

I understand that the TRC has good intentions but I do not see what good the recommendations (if there are to be any - remember RCAP)will do when everything has already been said and done with the compensation $$ paid out already and an apology from Prime Minister Harper given…will there be more compensation $$ given if they find the trauma is much more than the compensation that was given?...seems like like putting the cart before the horse b/c there will be no recourse for those who have been afflicted by the Residential Schools…btw…there is an excellent video by Kenneth Coates an the Residential Schools (in the 50s/60s)...many of the people in the video would be in their 70s and + now…Sorry but I cannot recall the name of it or how to find it but it was made by Kenneth Coates…If Ken is reading this - maybe he or someone else can respond…

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