Truth and Reconciliation hearings begin in Quebec
The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission is poised to hear from hundreds of Quebec survivors of the ten schools in Quebec where First Nations and Inuit children were sent.
Regional hearings began in Sept-Îles in January and will continue in other communities until the end of April.
Commissioner Marie Wilson said she expects to hear stories of families torn apart and children who were stripped of their culture and, in some cases, physically and sexually abused.
"It isn't just about survivors. It is about the children raised by survivors who had no parenting skills and who say over and over again, there was no love in that place. My number was 66. My number was 111. My number was 43. No names," Wilson said.
Formally established on June 1, 2008, the commission aims to collect and curate a comprehensive historical record of the history and legacy of aboriginal residential schools across Canada.
Hearings in Val d'Or
On February 5 and 6, former residential school students and community members gathered for hearings in Val d'Or, near the location of the Saint-Marc-de-Figuery school.
Lawyers representing survivors said as many as 1,000 children were abused in the residential school by a single priest during the 1950s and 60s.
Jackie Gull Barney shared her memories from the school.
"I remember the abuse, the slaps across the head. But the most pain I felt was the pain I felt leaving my parents," said Barney.
Both the Catholic and Anglican bishops for the region attended the hearings in Val d'Or.
Priest Cliff Dee said it is important for church representatives to attend the hearings.
"We have to talk about truth," he said. "As a church, that is what we are meant to be about. And I believe that as our church finds healing, we need our First Nations brothers and sisters."
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