Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians gather for release of Truth and Reconciliation report

In Halifax, people gathered at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to watch and react to the release of the Truth and Reconciliation report.

People gathered at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre to watch release of the Truth and Reconciliation repor

A sacred fire burns outside of the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre on Gottingen street in Halifax. (CBC)

People gathered at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre to watch and react to the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report on residential schools in Canada.

Outside the centre, a sacred fire burned on Tuesday.

Inside, organizers welcomed everyone to view the report's release from Ottawa, via Livestream. 

A crowd gathers at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax to watch the Truth and Reconciliation report be released from Ottawa. (CBC)

The report comes after a six-year investigation into the history of residential schools in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal Peoples attended the schools, operated by churches and the federal government.

The Commission examined what went on in the residential schools before they were closed in 1969. Their findings uncovered a long history of institutionalised abused.

The commission made 94 recommendations aimed at healing the damage done to survivors.

Local trauma

Janice Casimel-Doucette was sexually abused after being placed in a residential school when she was five.

Janice Casimel-Doucette was sexually abused after being placed in a residential school when she was five. She was at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre Tuesday to watch the Truth and Reconciliation report be released. (CBC)

"I learned to leave my body, physically, and just leave my body there and let it get abused," she said. "The more I detached from my body, I lost my spirit," she said. "And by the age of 30, I was a zombie." 

Wayne Doucette remembers her outward suffering.

"I lived with her trauma, which is quite mind-boggling," he said. "You couldn't talk to her, she didn't want you around. If you were around you were being yelled at. The anger that came out." 

Moving forward

After hearing of the report's findings, Casimel-Doucette feels she and other survivors have been heard.

"I felt that I was empowered," she said. "There's changes happening in our world for us survivors. … They acknowledge my pain [and] they acknowledge my suffering. 

Others wait to find out how the government will move from apology to action. 

"Where do we go from here?" asked aboriginal elder Billy Lewis. "That's my question. I'm more interested in what's next, than what was." 

Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has said that their work is not over.

Specifically, he wants federal government to implement the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which it has not yet signed.