March 26, 2014 2:30 pm
Updated: March 26, 2014 7:52 pm

National Truth and Reconciliation event comes to Edmonton

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EDMONTON – For three days, the Shaw Conference Centre will host the final national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event, which is being held in Edmonton from March 27-30.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to education Canadians about the history and ongoing impact of residential schools. Thousands of Aboriginal children in Alberta were taken from their families and sent to schools which were funded by the federal government and run by the churches.

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READ MORE: A history of residential schools in Canada 

The national TRC event in Alberta runs March 27-30 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. It will include statement gathering, traditional ceremonies, survivor gatherings and statements, listening circles, Education Day, cultural performances, art displays and film.

“The national events have two or three key purposes,” explained TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson. “One is to allow for a representative number of former students to share their experiences… That’s where we hear more of the truth but also individuals as they have worked towards reconciliation in their own lives.”

“It is also an opportunity for us collectively to be inspired towards reconciliation,” said Wilson.

“The other thing that happens is very, very important – is about education and public education… It’s an investment in our young generation to understand better why things are the way they are and what we have to do together to move forward.”

READ MORE: Alberta and NWT Catholic bishops issue letter of apology to First Nations people 

On March 27, students and staff from across Edmonton Public Schools will participate in the TRC Education Day at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Close to 500 students from 17 schools will spend the day learning about Residential Schools and their impact through activities and discussions.

“Education Day provides a valuable learning opportunity for our students to gain a deeper understanding about residential schools and recognize the resulting impact on many generations of First Nations, Métis and Inuit,” said Superintendent Darrel Robertson.

“With support and guidance, students from all cultural backgrounds can begin to understand the past and participate in the ongoing healing process for a stronger and brighter future.”

Education Day is free and open to the public.  For more information on the event, click here.

The Edmonton Oilers will be hosting a Celebration of First Nations Hockey on March 30, at the end of the last national TRC event.

“The Edmonton Oilers have a special connection with our many fans and supporters throughout First Nations communities in Oil Country,” said Patrick LaForge, Oilers president and COO.

“In acknowledging this terrible chapter in our country’s history, we’re also proud to celebrate hockey as a beacon of light and hope for many First Nations people in our province and across Canada.”

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During the Oilers’ March 30 game against the New York Rangers, a special rendition of the national anthem will be performed by Asani, an award-winning Aboriginal trio from Edmonton.

In addition, three First Nations leaders – Chief Wilton Littlechild; Fred Sasakamoose, the first Canadian of First Nations descent to play in the NHL; and Ted Hodgson – will perform a ceremonial puck-drop.

Former residential school hockey players and their families will be honoured during the game, and a group of young First Nations hockey players will be featured.

READ MORE: Residential school survivors fight Ottawa 

The Edmonton Oilers has committed to securing 20 spots at the Oilers Hockey School every summer for First Nations youth, and the team says it will continue to work with stakeholders to improve access to hockey in First Nations communities.

“Hockey was a common thread of positive experience for hundreds of residential school survivors, including me,” said Littlechild, a former U of A Golden Bears left winger, while thanking the Oilers on Wednesday. “The Oilers understand that, and they’re committed to making a difference in the lives of today’s First Nations youth.”

Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada – Alberta events

© 2014 Shaw Media

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