Truth and Reconciliation Commission to come to Halifax

Up to 600 survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School may attend.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is coming to Halifax, October 26-29. The four-day meeting at the World Trade and Convention Centre is the third of seven “national events” planned by the commission, bringing together survivors of residential schools and their families, academics and representatives of churches and government, with the goal of engaging and educating the public about a largely ignored history and the on-going legacies of the schools.

The first national event, in Winnipeg in 2010, saw 40,000 people attend. This past summer, 12,000 people attended the second event, in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

The TRC was created as part of the settlement of a class action lawsuit by residential school survivors who sought recompense for the cultural genocide of native peoples wrought by the schools, and for widespread physical and sexual abuse suffered at the schools. The courts ordered the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches to take part in the process.

Nova Scotia was home to the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, which operated from 1929 to 1967 and took students from across the Maritimes and from the Restigouche Indian Reserve in Quebec. The Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax ran the school through 1956, and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate afterward; the Sisters of Charity worked with both organizations.

It is thought that as many as 600 survivors of the Shubenacadie could show up at the Halifax event. It is being preceded by a series of regional hearings to take testimony, including one tomorrow in Indian Brook, and one Friday in Eskasoni.

“This Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the first in the world to focus specifically on something that happened to children, and children of a specific ethnicity,” explains the concept paper for the Halifax event. “Most of those still alive are now elderly adults.”

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