Residential school survivor says 'walls of silence have come down'

Documentary maker Garnet Angeconeb spoke to CBC's Daybreak about his journey from silence.

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin said schools broke parent-child bonds

Garnet Angeconeb spoke to CBC's Daybreak about appearing before Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (Garnet's Journey)

Documentary maker and residential school survivor Garnet Angeconeb spoke about his journey from silence to participating in a Canada-wide discussion

Angeconeb went before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on Thursday and presented a copy of his documentary, which focuses on the reconciliation process.

He shared his experiences with CBC’s Daybreak on Friday.

At one time, Angeconeb said he found it difficult to talk about his days at a residential school in northwestern Ontario.

"The pain was so raw, the pain was so deep," he said.

Now, Angeconeb says he is happy to see the public is having an open dialogue.

"The walls of silence have come down."

Paul Martin denounces Canadian 'black mark'

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin told CBC's Homerun that he admires the courage of the former school residents who have come forward to share publicly their personal histories, "who were for so long not able to do it" and who now see that "it's part of their [own] reconciliation."

Martin said the people appearing before the commission are bringing to light "a black mark of Canadian history."

"The government, for 150 years, used education as a means of assimiliation, as a means of essentially taking away aboriginal cultures from young children ... tried to break the bonds between children and their parents, in order to make sure that everyone else was cut out of the same copybook," Martin said.

He said it was important to look at "other areas of discrimination" and denounced what he said was "the underfunding of grade school and high school education" that's happening now on reserves.

Martin is one of the commission's honorary witnesses; he told CBC an honorary witness is an age-old aboriginal tradition.

He and others will be asked to "spread the message", said Martin, when the Truth and Reconciliation commission draws its conclusions.