(CBC News: Stolen Children, June 8 -21, 2008)
Last June the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held a huge gathering at The Forks. Indian Residential School survivors were invited to come and tell their stories - this is the truth part. Among the survivors were politicians, church representatives and other school employees - that's the reconciliation part.
I was there to witness an afternoon of story sharing and recorded these emotionally distressing stories for the radio series ReVision Quest. It was an incredibly draining day listening to stories of children as young as five being torn away from their parents and their communities, children being beaten for speaking their language, the affect effects of not being loved and not knowing how to love as an adult.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his official apology said the "two primary objectives of the Residential Schools system was to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, "to kill the Indian in the child". "
It's incredible to think that these atrocities could happen in our country; to our citizens; to my people.
Yesterday I was in New York where this episode of ReVision Quest received a silver medal at the prestigious New York Festivals. The festival recognizes outstanding work in broadcasting.
The thrill of receiving this award is getting the chance to bring this part of our history to the world stage. Many times we don't see the darkness in our midst and for a very long time, Canadians didn't know about residential schools. Aboriginal people didn't talk about residential schools. But we're talking now. Are you listening?
The stories that we gathered for Revision Quest: Will the Truth Bring Reconciliation? are still difficult for me to listen to. I still feel overwhelmed when I hear their voices break with emotion. But I applaud their strength to tell this very difficult story. And so do industry professionals from five continents and over 25 countries.
This is an excerpt from ReVision Quest: Will the Truth Bring Reconciliation? To hear the full episode go to www.cbc.ca/revisionquest. This episode was produced by Kim Ziervogel, with host Darrell Dennis and exec Doug Holmes.
ReVision Quest kicks off its fourth season on June 29 on CBC Radio One.