Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Truth and Reconciliation

From Marjorie Dumont

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 8:30 a.m. in the Chief Joe Mathias Centre was the beginning of a powerful day for me.  The Indian Residential School Survivors Society invited BCTF to the Public Education Initiative Reconciliation: If not now...when?  If not us...who?  Glen Hansman, 2nd Vice-President and I, Marjorie Dumont, went on behalf of the BCTF to be amongst many other witnesses.
I was honoured and privileged to be in a room full of people wanting, as Robin Gray (intergenerational survivor) put it, to feel comfortable talking about the uncomfortable.  On this day I would shed so many tears when listening to truths shared about the legacy of the Indian Residential schools and the children who didn’t make it out of the Indian Residential schools, as well as for the many lives still affected by the Indian Residential schools.  But I also shed some tears of joy and peace.  Joy that I was given hope of a better future for my own children and grandchildren to come.  I felt the joy because of the peace being restored in many lives and in many communities because of events such as this one, and others, throughout the country.   I would like to raise my hands in honour and respect to many people who have helped organize the Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation Commission held at the Squamish Nation’s Chief Joe Mathias Centre.  I also would like to make a special mention to Samaya Jardey for her hard work and dedication in making this day a success, and to Chief Ian Campbell for ensuring we do not forget to laugh.  Thanks for your humour.

A message that was so strong and loud, to me, spoken from many dignitaries; knowing who you are and where you come from is vital to the Aboriginal people, especially the youth.  I would also like to say this is very important for all nations.  Another strong message of many was the residential school issue is everyone’s responsibility, not just an Indian problem, or an Inuit problem, or a Metis problem.  This is a shared history and we must work together to begin the healing.  It will take all of us to reconcile—one heart, one mind, one family. 

The elder’s panel commenced just prior to the church panel, and the youth panel ended this wonderful day.  It was so appropriate to have the elders begin and youth end.  Representatives of the churches followed the elders and led the youth; symbolically it was like arms wrapped around the churches and embraced their courage.  The church representatives were courageous to be present and speak.  To me, this is a huge part of the healing, to have representatives of the churches be present on this healing journey. 

I was meant to be amongst the witnesses of this event.  It was healing for me personally.  Knowing my grandmother went to a residential school and for many years kept her story a secret.  It is my responsibility to set her spirit free by telling her truth so that it may never happen again, not in my life, in my children’s lives nor in my children’s children’s lives.  I would like to honour our ancestors for living through what seems the toughest part of our history; the residential schools and other assimilation tactics of the government of the day.  I am forever grateful for this powerful day of healing.

Marjorie Dumont, C’tan
Assistant Director
Aboriginal Education
Professional & Social Issues Division

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