TRC's NORTHERN NATIONAL EVENT WELCOMES ALL TO INUVIK, CALLS UPON GLOBAL WITNESSES AS KEEPERS OF HISTORY

OTTAWA, June 28, 2011 /CNW/ - Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), together with Residential School survivors, government and church leaders, Canadians and international witnesses today gathered in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, to mark the opening of the second TRC National Event.

"One year ago, Canadians met in Winnipeg to join us on this incredible, national journey of acknowledging Canada's shared history of Residential Schools," said TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair.  Today, I am pleased to reunite in the North with many familiar and new faces as we continue on the path of unveiling the truth and seeking reconciliation."

Canada's North is home to the highest ratio of residential school survivors per capita.  Until the mid-1990's, Aboriginal children across the North were forcibly separated, (in the early years) from families when they were sent away to Residential Schools.

Following opening ceremonies, individuals from four continents were recognized as official Honourary Witnesses of the Northern National Event.  As the keepers of history, Honorary Witnesses will observe four days of event proceedings. Most importantly, beyond the Inuvik event, they will recall and share with others in their circles of influence the historic significance of what they have witnessed.

"Having Honorary Witnesses observe the Northern National Event signals that the eyes of the global community are watching Canada.  It sends a clear message that not only did something terrible happen to innocent children in this country, but that it must never happen here again," stated TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson.

The theme of the Northern National Event, It's about Courage - A National Journey Home, was inspired by more than 550 survivors who shared their personal experiences with the Commission earlier this year during public hearings held in 18 communities throughout Nunavik, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

"During the Northern Hearings, so many survivors repeated to us about how healing for many is seen as a journey home," said TRC Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild.  "Together, we honour and celebrate the courage shown by survivors and welcome home those who have travelled an often dark and painful journey."

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as a result of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in the 130 year history of the residential schools, and guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.

To view a program agenda and live portions of the Northern National Event via webcast, log onto www.trc.ca.

SOURCE Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

For further information:

Nancy Pine, Senior Communications and Outreach Advisor
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Cell: 613-316-5654, Email nancy.pine@trc.ca

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