Sunday December 06, 2015

Taking the first steps on the road to reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair speaks during the Grand entry ceremony during the second day of closing events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa, June 1, 2015.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair speaks during the Grand entry ceremony during the second day of closing events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa, June 1, 2015. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Six years. More than 300 communities. Almost 7,000 survivor statements and millions of documents. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada travelled all over the country gathering the stories of Indian residential schools and their survivors.

More than 500,000 children were sent to residential schools, a practice that went on for generations. The last school finally closed in 1996. As many as 6,000 children died at the church run schools. Causes include tuberculosis and influenza, neglect, abuse, lack of food, isolation and poorly constructed buildings.

Amik Loves School cover

Amik Loves School by Katherena Vermette. (Portage and Main Press)

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has done its work collecting the stories of residential schools. Now the real journey toward reconciliation begins.

But what does reconciliation mean? And how do we get there? TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair shares the first steps down the road to reconciliation.

How do you explain the tragic history of residential schools to children? Martha Troian is teaching her young son about the horrific past, thanks to the gentle learning of a unique book.

And taking on the stories of others' trauma can have physical consequences. Jesse Thistle is a Métis/Cree scholar exploring his roots. Find out how the painful history of his people wrote itself on his body.

MUSIC Tundra Songs

Tanya Tagaq (Canadian Press)

This week's playlist:

Ben Sures - "The Boy Who Walked Backwards Through the Snow"

Christos Hatzis (featuring Tanya Tagaq and Northern Cree) - "They Could Not Have Possibly Survived"

stories from this episode