Journey to Reconciliation: Following the Path of Truth through Student Research

Charlene Bearhead

In order to follow the path of truth we must find it first. Understanding and coming to terms with the history and legacy of the Residential School system is critical in order to move ahead collectively as a society. In addition to simply learning what transpired at the schools, it is necessary to recognize that the education of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples shared a common fatal flaw: at the same time that Indigenous children were being taught that they were inferior, non-Indigenous children were being taught that they were superior.   The education of non-Aboriginal students that paralleled Indian Residential School education was dually damaging as it fed students a diet of lies and omissions that resulted in ignorance, racism and the disconnect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people that still exists in Canada today.

This session will present an option for ‘teaching’ the history, intergenerational impacts and collective Canadian impacts of the Indian Residential School system that is student centred and research based. The capacity and role of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is key in this work. The NCTR has the largest collection of curated materials on the Residential School system in Canada and we are the most authoritative and legitimate source for information and comment on reconciliation and Canada’s Residential School system. Educators can share the Residential School history with new generations of students through research as they can dive more deeply into the Residential School experience than has ever been possible before. NCTR is not your typical archive – the centre is innovative and progressive, and active in the process of reconciliation.

As stated by Justice Murray Sinclair in his summary address at the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you a path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.” NCTR offers the opportunity for every student and every teacher in this country, and others, to begin their own journey to reconciliation by seeking the path through their own research with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.