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TRC calls for education on residential schools

Tuesday March 13, 2012

First Nation leaders are calling for concrete reconciliation efforts after the Feb. 24 release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s interim report.

“Real reconciliation ... is achieved through action and change,” said National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. “We must all work together to ensure these important recommendations are implemented in ways that address the needs of all residential schools survivors and families, and to ensure that from now on education will only be used to support and improve the continued and sustained success of First Nations as an investment in Canada’s collective future.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin said the direct impacts of residential schools continue to be felt across NAN territory.

“The relationship between the trauma suffered by residential school students and their families affects every part of our lives,” Metatawabin said. “There is an immediate and urgent need to implement these recommendations. It is only through action that our communities can begin to heal.”

The TRC found there can be no movement toward reconciliation without an understanding of the rationale, operation and overall impact of the residential schools.

“The truth about the residential school system will cause many Canadians to see their country differently,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC chair. “These are hard truths that we need to acknowledge in order to lay the foundation for reconciliation.”

The interim report reflects the TRC’s activities since June 2009 and provides 20 recommendations that touch on five key areas, including the operation of the TRC, education, support for survivors, reconciliation and commemoration.

Specific recommendations include support for health and healing of all survivors, the need for culture and language programming, parenting supports, access to documents, and records as well as restoring funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

“Residential schools operated in Canada for well over a century,” said Chief Wilton Littlechild, TRC commissioner. “In the same way, the reconciliation process will have to span generations. It will take time to re-establish respect. It will take time and commitment to reverse this legacy.”

The report also provided a brief summary of what the TRC has heard directly from about 3,000 former students and staff who were most affected by the schools.

“It is vital the recommendations be implemented, especially educating Canadians on this shameful chapter in Canadian history,” Metatawabin said. “The rest of Canada must understand the enormous impacts this has had on our families over the last century. It would also go a long way in repairing the damaged relationship that exists between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.”

The TRC also released They Came for the Children, a new historical publication which examines more than 100 years of history, purpose, operation and supervision of the residential school system as well as its effects and ongoing legacy.

Copies of the interim report and They Came for the Children are available at

Hardcopies are available by calling toll free 1-888-872-5554.

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