The federal Truth and Reconciliation Conference is runs today and tomorrow in Vancouver and CNC's Prince George campus will be live-streaming the proceedings in lecture theatre 1-306.
As one of the largest urban hubs in Canada for aboriginal people and specifically the victims of the Indian residential school system, it is expected that the Vancouver hearings will be directly relevant to local residents.
There were two such schools in the Prince George region - one near Fraser Lake and one near Williams Lake. The federal government has recently apologized for the residential school campaign to eradicate First Nations customs and language. Numerous forms of restitution are now making their way back to some of these victims.
Part of that is the Truth and Reconciliation tour, where official testimony is being gathered across Canada from the people affected by these schools. The tour has so far heard thousands of stories of sexual and physical abuse, emotional trauma, neglect, torture and many unresolved mysterious deaths. The 120-year history of these schools ended in 1986 with the closure of the last Indian residential school.
“It’s important for not only aboriginal people but non-aboriginal people to be involved because it’s a Canadian story,” said Marlene Erickson, acting director of CNC's aboriginal education department. “All Canadians were affected one way or another and the path to healing is one that we all need to walk together.”
Prince George already hosted its sessions with the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission. Those wishing to see the Vancouver testimony are invited to CNC today and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Not all Canadians fully realize the damage residential schools had on the aboriginal community, and awareness is key to bringing about healing, truth, and reconciliation,” said Erickson. “It is beneficial to the aboriginal community because it provides a forum for stories to be told, so healing can occur. We must stand together as Canadians for this to truly be an effective commission.”
In addition to the live broadcast of the Vancouver testimony, CNC will also have a display area at the Gathering Place Atrium a few paces from the lecture theatre.
There will be several smudging ceremonies and a one-hour serving of bannock and tea starting at 3 p.m. Organizers will provide a communications point to gather written comments from anyone in attendance wishing to express themselves about the residential schools history and the modern attempts to reconcile the damage done.