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It Matters to Me – Thank You Survivors at TRC Event

I heard a lot of truth this weekend that was very difficult to hear. I was one of 30,127  connected via live -streaming to 36 countries around the world, and later attended in person, a historical event in Canada that took place here in Edmonton, Alberta within traditional Treaty Six Plains Cree territory.

This was the  final gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)  event where survivors of the Indian Residential schools shared their stories about a racist and inhumane system run by our government  and churches for over 130 years.

Stories were told by the survivors themselves, who, as children, were forcibly taken from their families, shipped to schools where they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture,  not allowed to talk to their siblings in the same school, punished for being who they were, punished for being children who were terrified and forced to adopt a culture that wasn’t their own, forced to stay in a school separated from family and forced to adopt a religion in order to to be “civilized” by a most uncivilized system of government and churches.

As if this was not abusive enough, add to that beatings, emotional, psychological, physical  and sexual abuse.

One exhibit that moved me deeply in the Learning room was the Missing Children project. At this time more than 4,100 children have been identified by the commission who died of disease or accident while attending residential schools.These, and many more were not returned home.

There was much raw pain and emotion.Many tears. It was  emotionally exhausting. There also was a balance of humour, talent, ceremony, love. Much laughter and wisdom was shared, the latter of which was the theme of this event which comes from the seven sacred teachings: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth.All of these teachings were practised at this gathering.

It is very hard to describe the wealth of experience  gained by listening, sharing, talking and greeting others. I went because I could not “not” go. I was very nervous at first,  but felt welcome  with the people at this large gathering.It was an honour to be there. . .to walk in the march at the end of the event as a member of the human race. My intention is to do my part in sharing the truth to others about the residential schools  that existed for generations, to listen to the stories and teachings of the survivors and elders.

I want to express my deep gratitude and respect to the survivors, many of you who shared your stories for the first time here. Thank you for your honesty and courage. May all of us continue on our healing journey, be proud, be respectful and walk in reverence, harmony. . . and thrive!

All my relations.

 

I didn’t take my camera,  wanted to be fully present to the experience. I include here a photo I took in 1998 at the 25th anniversary of Poundmaker’s Lodge, a recovery centre outside of Edmonton . In the background you see the remains of the  residential school, which was destroyed by arson in 2000.

Poundmakers  001

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6 responses

  1. Australia shares a similar history in the horrific treatment of Aboriginal people.

    April 1, 2014 at 4:01 am

  2. hi Julie, this event was live-streamed to 36 countries, and Australia was one of them-they read out the countries a couple of times.

    April 1, 2014 at 11:38 am

  3. It’s unfortunately quite the same in most countries. Everywhere we find abuse and discrimination of native minorities or any minorities for that matter. I didn’t know there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, but I think that is a great way to deal with the historical traumas of a nation.

    April 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    • I had vaguely heard about it and knew my church had made an official apology and church leaders were attending healing circles with native groups for years but only really became conscious of this commission when the event came to our city and all were invited.I like the idea that the Alberta government promised that this history will be added to the curriculum in the school systems and the mayor will make sure it is taught to all the city employees plus guarantee natives room in the city to practice traditional ceremony.It is a start.

      April 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

  4. A beginning…of healing…truly a powerful movement of spirit.

    April 5, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    • Thank you for visiting and commenting.felt like a huge paradigm shift.

      April 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm

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