The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was meeting Tuesday in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories to hear testimonies from former students at the Sacred Heart Mission School, and their family members.

Hundreds of students from communities up and down the Mackenzie River passed through the doors of Sacred Heart Mission school before it closed in 1960.

The hearings will provide an opportunity for residential school survivors to share the experiences of children who attended the schools.

Truth and reconciliation Commission N.W.T. hearings

Fort Providence

April 26, Deh G’ah Elementary and Secondary School

Fort Resolution 

April 28, Deninoo School

Fort Smith

May 6, Recreation Centre


May 10, Chief Albert Wright School


May 12, location TBD

Chief Jochim Bonnetrouge has worked for more than a decade to raise awareness about the impact of residential schools on the community, and he's hoping the hearing will start a new chapter of healing in Fort Providence.

Residential schools were originally intended to "civilize and christianize" aboriginal children by separating them from their parents, the TRC website says.  The separation had a profound impact on families, and many children died in the early years. Many others were subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to inform Canadians about what happened in the 150 year history of the schools, "and guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect."

The commission is holding hearings in the Northwest Territories until mid-May, before moving to Yukon later that month.

The hearings are in preparation for the Northern National Event in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, from June 28 to July 1.  The national events are intended to engage and educate the public about the history of the residential schools system, the experience of former students and their families and the ongoing legacies of the schools.