POLITICS

Education Of Residential Schools Should Be Mandatory: Commissioner

04/05/2015 05:26 EDT | Updated 06/05/2015 05:59 EDT
SASKATOON - A commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants mandatory education about residential schools for students across Canada.

Marie Wilson was in Saskatoon last week to speak about the legacy the commission will leave behind when it wraps up with closing events in Ottawa at the end of May.

Wilson says she hopes the commission will inspire jurisdictions across Canada to include residential school history as a required course to graduate high school.

The commission has collected testimony from residential school survivors to create an official record of the abuse they suffered, and will submit a final report to Ottawa.

In March 2014, Alberta joined two other jurisdictions and made the education of residential schools and First Nation treaties mandatory for all kindergarten to Grade 12 students.

Wilson says it's a positive step for indigenous and non-indigenous children who will pave the path of the country's future.

"Education was the tool that was used to assimilate and Christianize and otherwise diminish and damage all of these generations. It was also the tool that was used ... mindlessly, to keep the whole rest of the community ill-informed and ignorant," Wilson said.

"We need to teach an honest history that includes the history of the indigenous peoples of Canada, whose homeland it is, and that the history of this American continent didn't begin with the arrival of the Europeans."

The federal government estimates more than 150,000 students were forced to attend the schools.

A Saskatchewan facility, outside Regina, was the last residential school to close in 1996.

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