Archive on residential schools opening in Winnipeg
The National Centre for Truth and Reconcilliation will house the stories from more than 7,000 survivors.
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A centre that houses statements from residential school survivors is about to open its doors in Winnipeg.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the University of Manitoba will be home to millions of records, including statements from survivors, photos, videos and government documents and records that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) collected.
Rose Hart is a residential school survivor whose statement will appear in the archives. From age six to 12, she was at the residential schools Fort Alexander and Sandy Bay.
“It was pretty scary for me. I cried the entire way to the residential school,” said Hart. “I was heartbroken that I was separated from my mom.”
Hart works as the community engagement co-ordinator for the NCTR and she gathered statements from other survivors for the TRC.
“The NCTR is important because it holds sacred documents and experiences that happened to people,” she said. “As survivors, we have to find our own power back within ourselves to educate the Canadian public.”
The 7,000 survivors who testified before the TRC were allowed to decide what they wanted to make available to the public.
Most of the statements and documents are digital and the physical centre has a ceremonial space, reading room, computers to access the material, a meeting room, library and physical items of the collection, such as artifacts from residential schools.
Ry Moran, the director of NCTR, said the centre is important because it discloses a part of Canadian history that has long been distorted. “The true and accurate history of this country can and must take into full account the long-term systemic destruction of indigenous cultures,” he said. “This archive now will forever be the record of that systemic abuse of indigenous peoples.”
That’s the first step to reconciliation, according to Moran. “We have to figure out who we are first before we can figure out where we want to go.”
Opening ceremonies start on Tuesday at the NCTR on the University of Manitoba campus. The archives will officially be open to the public on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and can be accessed at www.nctr.ca.