National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation gathers input in Yellowknife
'This is our collective truth in this country'
Representatives from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation visited Yellowknife this week to gather input from former students about how their stories should be shared.
The 8,000-square-foot building at the University of Manitoba will become home to most of the 7,000 survivor statements, hundreds of photos, thousands of hours of video and millions of government documents and church records collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Muriel Betsina spent nine years in residential school and wasn't ready to share her story when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was in her community, but now she wants it to be included among the thousands of others.
"I want my children to hear all my stories I want to put on the table. Here, this is what happened to me," says Betsina.
"Today I said [to myself], 'oh Muriel, you don't have to run away anymore. Somebody is out there to listen to your story. We want you to get healed. We want everybody to get healed.'"
If former students don't want their testimonies included at the centre, they can withdraw it either in full or in pieces.
"The survivors will give us that direction," says Charlene Bearhead, the education lead for the centre.
"But it's very important to think about education and memory when we think about this. This is our collective truth in this country," she says.
"When those records are destroyed, it in some ways silences the voices of the children that didn't come home, that can't speak for themselves and for some of the survivors."
The opening ceremonies of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be held Nov. 3 and 4.