Truth and Reconciliation hearings in Calgary are giving residential school survivors a chance to talk about the abuse they suffered.
About 150 people registered to participate in the two-day hearings at Calgary hotel, while more were expected to show up at the door.
“There are people in their 70s and 80s who have never told their story,” said George Caillou, the executive director of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre. “It’s a chance for them to share and a chance for them to begin their healing journey.”
Victoria Crowchild, 79, wiped away tears Monday as she shared memories of childhood abuse that still haunts her.
"They told me that if I ever said anything to anybody, they would say that I was lying. So I didn't say anything. All I could do was cry," she said.
Daryll Brass, 67, said he drank heavily to try and forget the physical and sexual abuse he suffered.
"They punched me in the back of the head, they punched me on the side of the head and the ribs so hard that I fell down."
Brass said he has since done his best to break the cycle of abuse with his own family.
"All my children are grown up and have children now,” he said. “Not one of my children ever saw the inside of a jail. Not one of my children get in trouble."
Caillou said the hearings will serve as a history record and help people heal.
“It’s time for them to release it and begin the process of releasing a lot more and transferring that release to their children and grandchildren,” he said.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was created to inform Canadians about almost a century of enforced residential schooling of aboriginals – and offers survivors, their families, former teachers and anyone who worked in the schools to share their thoughts about the facilities.
A national event will be held in March in Edmonton.