Sunday, June 20, 2010

Governor General listens as school survivors ‘confront history.’

Governor General listens as school survivors ‘confront history.’
By Nick Martin, Canwest News Service June 20, 2010 9:48 AM •Story•Photos ( 2 )
More Images » Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean , right laughs as Lance Sandy a residential school survivor from North-West Angle, Ont. tries to get a hand shake as she leaves a pow wow event at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final day of ceremonies at the Forks in Winnipeg Saturday. June 19, 2010Photograph by: Joe Bryksa, Winnipeg Free PressWINNIPEG — By sharing their stories, residential school survivors are helping Canadians “confront history together,” Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said Saturday.

On the final day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s four days in Winnipeg, the Governor General listened to 14 people’s stories of residential schools.

"This is also a way of achieving our Canadian identity. Today, we are going to make things happen differently," Jean said. "We need to share the pain, we need to cry together . . . we are alive, and we are very strong.”

Jean, who was born in Haiti, said she can relate to the struggle of Canada’s aboriginal people.

She told the crying crowd about the 350 years of slavery in her native land, which was followed by a dictatorship.

When her family came to Canada as refugees in 1967, Jean said, no one knew anything about their experiences.

But when Jean met aboriginal people in Quebec, "I looked at the people, and I could relate.”


The Governor General told Canadians not to be afraid to be politically correct.

"It’s breaking the wall of indifference. What comes with indifference, is a lot of solitude," Jean said.



On Saturday, the commission heard from young people whose families have been affected by residential schools.

"I was unable to love anyone," said one young woman from Manitoba’s Long Plains First Nation, who has been in foster care most of her life.

"It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my parents’ fault, it was society’s."

A man from Norway House, Man., told the commission his community has been destroyed by alcohol and violence.

The former gang member said his cousin’s murdered body was found a year ago.

"They still haven’t found her killer — this is common for our women."

Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair told the crowd that the younger generation inherited the legacy of residential schools.

"The experience they had, and the legacy of residential schools, stops here," Sinclair said. "It was through education that they took this away, and it is through education we will give it back."

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