WINNIPEG — It was a day decades in the making, as the doors of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation finally opened Tuesday.
“It’s a pretty special moment. We’ve arrived at a pretty important place here,” Phil Fontaine, residential school survivor and First Nations leader said.
But the reality of residential schools is a dark chapter in Canadian history. For over 100 years, thousands of First Nations children were torn from their homes, taken from their families and placed in residential schools. Many of them still live with the scars from the emotional and physical abuse. The hope is to make Canadians aware of these stories and educate the public.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for Canadians, to learn about the residential school experience. It really is a Canadian story,” Fontaine said.
Dozens gathered for the opening at the University of Manitoba. The archival collection will include thousands of personal stories from the victims, photographs and artifacts.
“This place will be a hub for researchers, for survivors of the schools, family members and educators looking to better understand and share with the Canadian public,” Ry Moran with the centre said.
The centre is officially open but on Wednesday 1700 students will gather for the second part of the opening; an unveiling of the National Centre’s new online database.