06/05/2015 10:21 EDT | Updated 06/05/2016 05:59 EDT

Alberta Students To Learn More About Impact Of Residential Schools

"They're just hiding all the stuff what happened to the aboriginal people."


The Alberta government is overhauling the school curriculum to incorporate recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ensure students learn about the legacy of abuse.

Provincial officials do not have a timeline for the changes, but say work has already started.

"There is about a half a page within the Grade 10 text book, information about residential schools so they don't go into depth about it. It's not enough," said Amanda Gould, First Nation, Metis and Inuit liaison for students at an Edmonton school.

The TRC travelled the country, listening to six years of testimony from nearly 7,000 witnesses. The document provides stories from survivors, including tales of children taken from parents, siblings separated, and abuse and neglect at residential schools.

Seventeen-year-old Emerald  Blesse, who just returned from the national ceremonies where she shared ideas about reconciliation, says she learned of the devastating impact of residential schools from her great grandfather.

"They're just hiding all the stuff what happened to the aboriginal people."

She has always questioned why there's hardly any mention of the shameful history in school, she says.

Learning about the history and legacy of residential schools can help students understand the plight of indigenous people, said teacher Terry Godwalt.

"As a result of not having it in the curriculum I think the kids see it as a little box in a text book, a picture of little children standing in front of a school."

The long-awaited summary report released this week blasts more than 100 years of Canada's aboriginal policy, saying in the introduction that the "establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as 'cultural genocide.'" 

The TRC will release a final report of its recommendations next week.

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