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Shawn Atleo: First Nations must turn page on residential schools

Filed Under: Canada | Education | Opinion
More on: afn, residential schools, shawn atleo, youth

Shawn Atleo, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations, discusses what should happen now that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has wrapped up its hearings:
I have spoken many times about what is required for Canada to reconcile with First Nations, of the need to respect and recognize us as peoples and respect and implement our inherent rights, treaties and title.

But at the final TRC event in Edmonton, my thoughts turned to what reconciliation means for and requires from First Nations. This work affects me in my role as National Chief but also as an individual. I know about abuse and experiments carried out on innocent children – some within my own family – and the resulting deep intergenerational trauma. I know that trauma.

Through the pride of our culture and the strength of our ancestors, we can begin to move out from that embedded sense of trauma, move out from the darkness into the light of confidence in our future.

Through the truth, we must free ourselves from the bonds of anger and hate. We will never forget. But we must not burden another generation with anger and pain. We can give them the strength of our spirit, our songs, our languages and our cultures.

Children are at the very centre of our cultures, our homes and families. We can once again capture that deep care and concern for children. It starts with forgiveness within our own families – forgiveness in order to stop holding on to the pain and the suffering, so that we do not pass this on any longer.

Get the Story:
Shawn Atleo: First Nations must turn the page on residential schools (The Daily Globe and Mail 3/31)

Related Stories:
Duncan McCue: Hockey helps reconciliation of boarding schools (03/27)
CBC Interview: Reneltta Arluk on legacy of residential schools (3/26)

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