Locals to share residential school experiences

Justice Murray Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are in Kamloops today and tomorrow hearing local residential school experiences.
Image Credit: InfoTel Multimedia

Locals affected by residential schools are getting the opportunity to share their experiences today and tomorrow in Kamloops for healing and to piece together Canadian history.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has travelled throughout Canada to hear the affects of residential schools from the people involved.

"One of the sad facts about Indian residential schools in Canada was that they were hidden from people," Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair said today in his opening remarks in Kamloops.

The commission was established following the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement between legal counsel for students, churches, the Assembly of First Nations, other aboriginal organizations and the Government of Canada.

The agreement was put into place to resolve 'the legacy of Indian Residential Schools' and included multiple components such as restitution, counselling, commemorative activities as well as the commission.

"We've heard well over 6,000 testimonies now," Sinclair said.

All types of presentations - poems, song, stories - are encouraged on experiences and impacts related to individuals or their families.

The commission will write a report about the experiences to present to the court, parties involved and the Canadian public.

"What's also important… is for us to get Canada to understand that this is not an Aboriginal problem, this is a Canadian issue," Sinclair said. "We will be able to establish a proper sense of the history in this country."

The event is co-hosted by Tk'emlups the Secwepemc and takes place at Moccasin Square Gardens (Old Gym), 200-330 Chief Alex Thomas Way, beginning 8:30 a.m. today and tomorrow. For more information, visit the commission online.

Experiences can be shared either publicly at a sharing panel or in private. Health workers will be on hand.

Those who are unable to attend the live hearings can watch the live broadcast online.

"I want to encourage each and every one of you to please think about telling us your story," Sinclair said. "We have a lot of work to do. It will take time."

To contact a reporter for this story, email: jwallace@infotelnews.ca or call (250) 319-7494.

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