Canada’s Youth Face Legacy of Indian Residential Schools at ‘Education Day’ Event


Elementary and high school teachers and students in the Montréal area gathered today for “Education Day,” an event convened by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to kick off the TRC’s historic Québec National Event, scheduled from April 24 to 27, 2013.

Education Day will introduce young people to the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Québec and the rest of Canada through a variety of activities, dialogue, displays, and films.

Quebec National Event is the fifth of seven such events to be held by the Canada TRC in the course of its mandate. In a recently recorded interview, TRC’s Commissioner Marie Wilson explains the significance of national events:

VIDEO: TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson on the Québec National Event

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was established in June 2008 with the mandate to investigate the truth about what happened in the government-sponsored, church-run Indian Residential Schools.

For more than 100 years indigenous children were removed from their homes and communities, and placed in Residential Schools in which their cultural traditions and native languages were forbidden, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse was commonplace. The TRC of Canada is tasked with the collection of testimony and documentation surrounding the events which took place in the IRS system, and the personal, cultural, and societal consequences of these events.

Education Day is part of the broader effort to engage youth in the work of the TRC by involving them in the process of identifying and addressing the intergenerational effects of the Indian Residential School system in their communities, in accordance with the TRC’s mandated goal to “Promote awareness and public education of Canadians about the IRS system and its impacts.”

Youth participants will be listened to by a panel of well-known and well respected figures at the local and national level, including former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, the TRC’s first Honorary Witness.

Since 2010, ICTJ has worked closely with the TRC of Canada to devise a youth engagement strategy and conduct a number of targeted activities to promote youth participation in the TRC.

Learn more about ICTJ's Children and Youth program. PHOTO: Director of ICTJ's Children and Youth program, Virginie Ladisch (right) at a previous event of the Canda TRC. Photo courtesy of the TRC.