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Truth and Reconciliation Commission Urges More Awareness of Residential Schools
February 24, 2012
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The first round of recommendations was released today by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a body tasked with a five-year investigation into the role that residential schools played in Canadian history. One of the TRC's main recommendations is that all Canadians should be made more aware of the role residential schools played in our history. They suggest a full review of how current students are educated about residential schools and what was done to the children who attended those schools.

Speaking about the TRC's findings, Mr. Justice Murray Sinclair recommended a review of every province and territory's approach to educating kids about residential schools, and the introduction of age-appropriate educational material.

The TRC was created to reveal the legacy of the church-run residential schools, which about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were forced to attend throughout the 20th century. The last school closed in 1996. The commission also suggested establishing mental-health wellness facilities in Nunavut and Northwest Territories. The facilities would specialize in childhood trauma and traditional healing methods that Judge Sinclair says are "critically needed by residential school survivors".

In addition, the interim report calls for the federal government and churches that ran schools to invest money in reviving traditional aboriginal cultural and linguistic heritages.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed the interim report, saying it "draws important conclusions and points to clear steps toward reconciliation". He also cautioned that "action and change" would be required to bring about that reconciliation. Atleo urged First Nations people and all Canadians to "turn the page on this dark chapter of our shared history and work toward a future that unleashes the full potential of our peoples in this country".

Wab Kinew, CBC journalist and musician, has been working to bring attention to the history of residential schools for years - he fought to get the CBC to term children who went to residential schools "survivors", rather than "former students". He recently hosted the CBC documentary series 8th Fire, which looks at the relationship between Canada and Aboriginal peoples. Wab was in the red chair recently. Check out that interview below:

Wab also shared the five things he believes people need to stop saying about First Nations people:

Related stories on Strombo.com:

Examining Aboriginal Rights and Education

Canada's Education System is Failing First Nations Kids: Report to the UN

Sources:

The Globe and Mail on residential schools' legacy

Digital Journal on National Chief Atleo's response

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