Canadians have learned a good deal about the Indian Residential School System, and much of what is not today known may never be known, precisely because the records are gone. What we do however have is the ample and rich experiences of living aboriginal people, and it is on these experiences and these voices that most of my own work has been based.
If you want to know why the Conservative government has lost so much goodwill on the residential school apology, look no further than the treatment of the survivors of St. Anne's Residential School. In the dark annals of the residential schools, St. Anne's stands out as a particularly brutal symbol of torture, shame and abuse. Unfortunately, the Federal government is re-victimizing the survivors by deliberately monkey-wrenching a process that was supposed to finally bring closure.
Approximately 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in Canada's residential school system from the late 1800s until the last one closed in 1996. At least 3,000 children -- possibly many more -- never got out of those schools alive. Telling their stories to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission helps survivors begin to heal.