THUNDER BAY -Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) are pleased to present Walking Together: Sharing Our Journey a commemoration event honouring Residential School survivors September 4-9, 2012, at the Travelodge Airlane in Thunder Bay. Residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada date back to the 1870s. Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, and the last school closed in 1996. These government-funded, church-run schools were set up to eliminate parental involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of Aboriginal children.
“There have been many community discussions surrounding the area of the generation “gap” between the elders and youth,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit.
“Generations of residential schools have created this ‘gap’ as survivors were told by school officials that everything that happened at the schools was to remain a ‘secret’ and must never be talked about.”
Thus there have been great grandparents, grandparents, and parents that have never shared the hardships they went through, leaving the youth to wonder why their parents never shared this with them. The healing and reconciliation has to happen between the parents and the children. This Gathering is a safe place to learn about our history and learn how the Residential Schools have affected those that never went and to talk about where do we go from here?”
During this era, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in these schools often against their parents’ wishes. Many were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. While there is an estimated 80,000 former students living today, the ongoing impact of residential schools has been felt throughout generations and has contributed to social problems that continue to exist.
The commemoration began with a Youth and Elders Gathering this week that promoted healing and reconciliation amongst the youth and inter-generational survivors through workshops and seminars.
Opening ceremonies for the commemoration will take place Thursday morning at 9:00AMEDT, and include a keynote address from Chief Wilton Littlechild, a Commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). There will also be a keynote address from CBC Host and Producer Shelagh Rogers on Friday at 1:00pm. She will be speaking about the IRS Experience through the eyes of a reporter.
For more information on Indian Residential Schools or the TRC, please visit www.trc.ca.