Reconciliation commission hears of pain in Beaufort Delta

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., earlier this week as part of a second round of hearings in northern communities.
A woman tells the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about her experience at residential school in Inuvik, N.W.T. when the commission was in Tuktoyaktuk earlier this week. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

More stories of pain and bullying emerged at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada event in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., this week.

The commission was in the Arctic hamlet as part of a second round of hearings in northern communities.

The meeting was much smaller than the national event in Inuvik last summer, but many of the stories were just as painful.

People gathered in the gymnasium of Mangilaluk School and talked about being brought to Inuvik, N.W.T., or Aklavik, N.W.T., by boat or plane when they were children.

They were brought to attend the residential schools, including Inuvik’s notorious Grollier Hall.

They talked about how they were only able to visit their families on holidays, and sometimes they weren’t able to see their families at all.

There were many stories of sexual and physical abuse, and not only at the hands of adults. Some children also abused each other.

The chair of the event, Eddie Dillon, said that student-on-student abuse is a reminder of bullying. He talked about how bullying is still present today in modern schools.

This was echoed by TRC deputy commissioner Robbie Watt, who said "children can be cruel," especially when dealing with difficult issues of their own.

Persis Gruben, 93, shared her unique residential school experience. She spoke of her time at the school and said she had wanted to stay, but her family took her out of school because they insisted she retain her land skills.

After Tuktoyaktuk, the TRC will visit Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour and Paulatuk.