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'An incredible scar.' This archivist won't let Canada forget

During the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, Ry Moran was responsible for the process of statement gathering from survivors. Now, he continues to work to preserve their stories for future generations.
Ry Moran is working to preserve their stories of survivors of residential schools for future generations. 18:33

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) travelled across the country, it was Ry Moran — director of statement gathering — who recorded the horrific memories of survivors of Canada's residential school system. His mission: to preserve and share their stories with future generations.

For over 100 years, official government of Canada policy was to assimilate Indigenous language, culture and spiritual beliefs. To achieve this they targeted children — tearing them from their families and placing them in residential schools. 

When we started off, we had zero statements and zero documents. Now we have 7,000 statements and five million documents.- Ry Moran

"[Residential schools] have left an incredible scar on this country, and they have created untold amounts of damage to Indigenous peoples, and to us as a whole, as a country."

At a single TRC event, there might be 400 statements recorded in one day, in 25 separate rooms. Aging survivors shared their traumatic stories, many of them for the first time. Moran was responsible for overseeing this sensitive process.

"We've got a lot of work to do," says Moran. "But the interest shown by Canadians, and the enthusiasm and desire that they have to see this truth come forward, really does give me hope that we're going to make profound change in this country." 

Moran is one of a new generation of passionate change-makers profiled in CBC's new series We Are Canada. Watch the series Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC and online.

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