10/12/2013 06:22 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Residential school survivors gather in Vancouver

Thousands of residential school survivors attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Vancouver, bearing witness to Canada's sad history of residential schools.

- Learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

- Learn more about Canada's residential schools

In all, about 150,000 First Nations children went through the church-run residential school system, which ran from the 1870s until the 1990s.

In many cases, native kids were forced to attend under a deliberate federal policy of "civilizing" Aboriginal Peoples.

Many students were physically, mentally and sexually abused. Some committed suicide. Some died fleeing their schools.

- B.C. residential school survivors says he was starved

The federal commission was set up as part of the settlement between the Canadian government, victims and various churches who operated the residential schools — the last of which closed its doors in 1996.

The CBC's Duncan McCue gives an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work in Vancouver in this video report.