The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will wrap up its final national event in Edmonton later today.
- Truth and Reconciliation: nearly 4 years of hearings wrap
- Residential school survivors event draws thousands in Edmonton
- Reconciliation: A new generation of aboriginal Canadians weighs in
Thousands of aboriginal people from across the country have converged in Edmonton, to publicly or privately tell their own stories about time spent in residential schools.
For many, the act of telling was a painful process.
"It was really difficult and hard for us, even today to talk about it," said Raymond Yakelaya, who was only 10 years old when he went to live at a residential school in Inuvik, N.W.T.
While there, Yakelaya said his fellow students – some as young as five years old – were physically and sexually abused. Many later committed suicide, he said, because they couldn’t talk about what had happened.
"These were our friends – they were good young men, talented young men – and what happened to them was not their fault," he said.
Time to move forward
The importance of forgiveness and moving forward has been a recurring theme throughout the four-day event.
Speaking Saturday, residential school survivor Louise Potts said it is time to leave the past behind, adding what happens now is up to First Nations peoples.
"Reconciliation goes step by step and you acknowledge and move on, but don't hang on to it. It's getting stuck in that one spot that prevents us from moving on."
Potts was one of more than 200 people who filled a conference room at the Shaw Conference Centre Saturday to participate in “It matters to me,” a town hall meeting on reconciliation.
“It’s time to [reconcile] with our history. it’s history now. now, it’s our choice … we know about it, we feel it, it’s in our soul and now we have to get into action, to put it where it belongs,” she said.
The conference will wrap up Sunday evening with a walk from the Shaw Conference Centre to the Alberta Legislature.