Sunday, 6 December 2009

Where are the Children? - Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools in Canada

A primary objective of our work is to promote awareness among the Canadian
public about residential schools and try to help them to understand the
ripple effect those schools have had on Aboriginal life. But equally
important, we want to bring about reconciliation between generations of
Aboriginal people, and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

Everyone who belongs to the First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities has
been affected by the residential school experience. Only through
understanding the issues can we undertake this healing journey together.

The aboriginal healing foundation

Aboriginal Healing Foundation
A Message from Georges Erasmus, Chairman

Having been asked to provide some introductory words for Where are the
Children? - Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools, I reflected
upon the meaning of such an undertaking. What did an exhibition of this
type represent?

The project was launched at the National Archives of Canada. Dedicated to
the service of the nation's identity, the Archives gathers what has been
as an endowment to what will be. Because no legacy is enriched by
counterfeit, this project represented an attempt to tell the true and
painful story of a national institution committed, not to the preservation
of a people, but to their forced assimilation.

Where are the Children? acknowledges that the era of silence is over. The
resilience of Aboriginal people is evident in efforts to address the
effects of unresolved trauma, thereby conferring upon future generations a
renewed legacy of peace, strength, and well-being.

The exhibition has meant, and will mean, many things to many people.

Those who are Survivors of Indian residential school trauma will have
painful recollections. Some have begun their healing, others are yet to
begin. I acknowledge their strength - their determination to face the
truth and to end the cycle of abuse. People of courage are the wealth of
our nations. May this exhibit contribute to their healing.

Some will for the first time see what Survivors of residential school
abuse have never forgotten: the face of a child whose identity is a
number, whose culture is forbidden, and whose future is an institutional
experiment. May this exhibit provision a greater understanding.

Meanwhile, the healing will continue. We will look beyond mere survival,
toward the renewal of nations and the reconciliation of peoples.

A charity, "The Legacy of Hope Foundation," has been established to carry
forward the work begun by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. The Legacy of
Hope Foundation will focus upon healing, public awareness and education.
The healing has just begun.

I thank the Survivors of residential school abuse who today are enriching
both the present and future state of Aboriginal communities.

For their support, I thank also the National Archives, the National
Library of Canada, Health Canada, and the Office of Indian Residential
Schools Resolution of Canada.

Georges Erasmus,

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