Forum focuses on Indian residential school reconciliation

More than 70 people turned out to A.L. Fortune Secondary April 4 to attend a forum on the Indian residential schools legacy

The Indian residential school experience has motivated some Enderby area residents to work towards a future of mutual respect.

More than 70 people turned out to A.L. Fortune Secondary April 4 to attend a forum on the Indian residential schools legacy and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s interim recommendations.

“Healing is something the First Nations must do for themselves, each in their own time,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin First Nation chief.

“The non-aboriginal community can help by being there to give witness to the truth without ascribing blame.”

Mayor Howie Cyr spoke of Enderby being richer as a community because of the presence of the Splatsin and the city’s desire to work ever more closely in co-operation with the Splatsin.

Among those participating in the forum was Daniel Joe, a Splatsin band councillor and resolution health support worker for the Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society.

He spoke of the legacy of dysfunctional parenting and he related how his own father and mother were unable express love to their children, never having received it themselves.

“Finally, at the age of 24, I had to tell my mother that I needed to be hugged.”

Panelist Jody Leon led the audience through the interim recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

The recommendations include funding to sustain mental health and healing centres, the release by government and churches of all relevant documents, the development of culturally appropriate early childhood and parenting programs, the promotion of traditional spiritual, cultural and linguistic heritage, measures to increase public awareness and understanding, and the extension of the commission’s mandate by one year to insure it is able to complete its task.

“In response to audience questions, the panelists urged the audience to become engaged by pressuring the government to adopt the recommendations, by seeking out and speaking the truth, by being patient while recognizing that years of pain and suffering won’t likely be healed in 20 sessions, and by not being judgemental when witnessing the human manifestation of that suffering,” said Bernie Desrosiers, with the Shuswap Inclusion Project, which organized the event.