Residential school survivors share memories after TRC report
Truth and Reconciliation Commission report says residential school contributed to "cultural genocide"
Residential school survivors say they hope the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report will help Canadians understand what they went through.
The report, released yesterday after more than six years of testimony, said the forced removal of generations of aboriginal children from their parents constitute "cultural genocide."
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Diane Bossum was six years old when she was taken from her parents in Masteuiash, in Quebec's Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, and sent to a residential school in La Tuque, Que.
"I received spankings because I didn't speak English. There was nobody to come and hug me. We didn't receive love at the residential schools," Bossum says.
It happened in another time but we're still living it today- William Tagoona, residential school survivor
Former CBC reporter William Tagoona remembers being torn from his mother's arms and sent to a school in Churchill, Manitoba.
"Even the smell of the sheets were, to me, very foreign. It was very scary."
Tagoona says students would form gangs to protect each other from bullies and from staff.
He says he witnessed sexual abuse, but it took him a while to realize what he had seen.
"It never happened to me personally, but when I look back know I know these things happened to my friends," he says.
After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report, Tagoona says he believes Canadians are ready to acknowledge what happened.
"I think what they have to understand is we're not substandard people. It's really not our fault, it's not their fault; it happened in another time but we're still living it today," he says.
Tagoona hopes the federal government will take the report seriously.
He says the last thing he wants is for the report to be left on a shelf to gather dust.