About 150,000 children passed through 130 residential schools. They were forbidden from speaking their languages and cut off from their families. Photo by Michael Swan

Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be in Toronto at month’s end

  • May 9, 2012

TORONTO - The long, hard national look at Canada’s history of the Indian residential schools comes to Toronto May 31 to June 2.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is supporting a regional event at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Hotel. The three days will give Toronto-area First Nations’ people a chance to learn about the history of residential schools and an opportunity to share personal stories about the residential school experience and how it has affected families.

“We want to support the work of the TRC and we want to promote it among the Jesuits and our ministries,” said Fr. Peter Bisson, acting provincial superior of the Jesuits in English Canada. Bisson plans to be at the event to participate in whatever way he can.

The Jesuits ran residential schools  in Spanish, Ont., about six hours’ drive north of Toronto. Even if Toronto isn’t directly part of the Jesuit history with residential schools, the Jesuits want to be part of any work toward reconciliation.

“We do some work with native youth through Anishnabe (Spiritual Centre) at Anderson Lake, near Espanola. We hope to strengthen that initiative,” he said.

Reconciliation has to be sought not just among the generation that attended the schools, but with their children and grandchildren. Increasingly reconciliation will have to be sought in the cities and among young, urban natives.

“The numbers are high (in cities) and there’s a lot of youth there,” said Bisson. “It is the fastest growing demographic in the country. It’s not simply the future of native people, it’s the future of the whole country.”

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