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TRC to Hold Northern Residential Schools Hearings

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Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), charged in 2008 with a mandate to publicize what took place in Indian Residential Schools from the 1870s until 1996, will hold northern hearings in 19 communities this spring in Nunavik, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

The first hearing will be on March 15 in Inukjuak, Quebec, and the last in Watson Lake, Yukon, on May 27, the agency said in a release.

“The northern hearings are an opportunity for Residential School survivors who might not otherwise be able to come to us, to speak up, be heard and inform the Commission and Canadians of the unique experiences of children who attended Residential Schools in Canada’s north,” said TRC chairman Justice Murray Sinclair in the commission’s Jan. 12 statement.

“The north is home to several diverse groups of people, mixes of cultures living together in this region with their own practices and history,” said TRC member Marie Wilson in the statement. “It is important that we come away with a better understanding of the lingering impacts of Residential Schools in northern communities in order to lay the groundwork that will move us beyond the truth telling of experiences to revealing gestures of reconciliation.”

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For its part the TRC will explain its work and the statement-gathering process, as well as provide survivors with time to reflect and share their experiences. The goal is to pave the way for the TRC’s second National Event, to be held in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, from June 28 through July 1.

There will be other opportunities for public discussion over the next four years as the commission moves forward with its efforts to document this 150-year portion of Canadian history, with the help of those who lived it. Survivors can also ask to make their statements in private, Sinclair told reporters at a press conference, according to the Nunatsiaq News.

“The tour communities were chosen on a basis of regional representation, where there’s been a high concentration of survivors of survivors and claims but also communities that have a historic significance in relation to residential schools,” Sinclair said, as reported by the paper. “We believe it’s important to come away with a better understanding…. This (tour) will lay the groundwork that will allow us to move on toward reconciliation.”