Dialogue sheds light on 'terrible chapter' of Canadian history
WINNIPEG, June 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada say its inaugural National Event in Winnipeg succeeded in raising awareness essential to repairing generations of damage inflicted by Indian Residential Schools.
The four-day event concluded yesterday, highlighted by a visit from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, who presided over a youth sharing circle and opened a powwow before the closing ceremonies.
"We are deeply grateful to those who came forward to share their experiences, and to those who opened themselves up to hear those stories and show those individuals that they no longer walk alone," stated Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC Chair. "What we have started here is a national dialogue that sheds light on a terrible chapter in our history. It has been a painful experience for many, but an important first step in what will be a lengthy but vital healing process for our country."
High winds and rain scattered throughout the four-day gathering failed to dampen spirits, with an estimated 40,000 people in attendance. Survivors and others impacted by residential schools contributed statements to the Commission, both privately and through sharing circles held throughout the event. Other activities included Inuit and Métis cultural demonstrations, art exhibits, plays, readings, an academic conference, outdoor concerts and traditional ceremonies. Winnipeg's was the first of seven National Events the Commission will hold across the country over five years.
"The people who came to the National Event reached out to each other and began to talk about something that they may have never talked about before," said Marie Wilson, TRC Commissioner. "Seven generations of damage cannot be repaired in four days, but the journey we began in Winnipeg has affirmed for us that we have made a good start."
Plans are underway for the next gathering, to be held in Inuvik, NWT, in June, 2011.
"We are on this national journey because we believe that change is possible," said TRC Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild. "What we witnessed in Winnipeg confirms that when we truly connect with each other and share our perspectives, we take control of our destiny. The bridges built this week will help all of us to create a future built on understanding and respect."
Additional information about the TRC and the Winnipeg National Event is available at www.trc.ca or by calling 1 (888) TRC-5554.
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 150 year history of the residential schools, and guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.
For further information: For further information: Nancy Pine, Senior Communications and Outreach Advisor, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 613-947-4647 office, 613-316-5654 cell, Nancy.email@example.com