Beginning in the 1870s, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed in government-funded, church-run Residential Schools, whose purpose was to “kill the Indian in the child”. The last of these schools closed in 1996.
While some former students had positive experiences at residential schools, many children suffered emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse, and some children died while attending these schools. Aboriginal children were often punished for speaking their own language or following traditional cultural practices.
The unresolved trauma suffered by former students has been passed on from generation to generation and has had a profoundly negative effect on the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.
As part of its five-year mandate, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will establish a National Research Centre that will be a permanent resource for all Canadians about what happened within the Residential Schools. As the TRC enters the planning stages for the Centre, we will look to experts for some guidance.
The objective of this Forum is to learn from the spectrum of knowledge and experiences that will be presented by international guest speakers.