Over a decade ago, Canada signed an agreement with various religious organizations and survivors of the Indian Residential School system.
As part of this agreement, an assessment process was undertaken that ultimately collected the stories and evidence of over 38,000 survivors and intergenerational survivors of the residential school system.
This vast collection of records is set to be destroyed in 15 years.
As a human living in Canada, here are 4 reasons why the destruction of these records should anger you:
1. It will be a devastating loss for an already limited residential school record.
These records are by far the largest collection of first-hand accounts about the experience of residential schools. They are an integral part of our history. Why would you destroy a collection of records when the existing documentary record is painfully sparse?
2. Because it can be so difficult to talk about personal trauma, intergenerational survivors and communities often are left to rely on second-hand accounts, archives, and historical records to know the truth.
It only makes sense to preserve a collection of first-hand information of this size and national import.
3. Future generations have a right to know about the loss of their languages and culture.
These records contain truths about the residential schools, and the many impacts they had and continue to have.
4. We must know and preserve the full truth in order to approach meaningful reconciliation.
Erasing that truth erases part of the path to reconciliation.
Before she passed, my grandmother gave me an envelope containing documents, scribbled notes, and photographs, and asked me to dig into my family's Métis history - a journey of discovery I am just beginning to embark on - and it frustrates me to think that I may never learn the full truth, that we may lose such a large collection of historically important records.
An organization called The Coalition to Preserve Truth, representing both survivors and intergenerational survivors of the residential school system, believes we can (and SHOULD!) preserve these records in a way that is meaningful for future generations, while being respectful of the privacy of past and present generations.
On May 25th, 2017, the Coalition will be appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada to advocate for the preservation of these records.
But they need YOUR help!
If you agree that first-hand accounts of Canadian residential school experiences should be preserved for future generations, please consider helping the Coalition in their fight to #StandForTruth:
1. Donate to their GoFundMe campaign.
Search "StandForTruth". Your contribution will help cover the cost of legal fees and travel to the Supreme Court in Ottawa.
2. Like and share on social media.
3. Upload your own video. Tell them why you #StandForTruth.
YouTube: Stand For Truth
4. Find more information at standfortruth.ca
“The profound impacts of residential schools are still rippling through our communities today and will continue for generations to come.” Carey Newman, founder of the Coalition to Preserve Truth and creator of the iconic Witness Blanket. “We need to ensure that future generations can access specific knowledge about what led to their broken communities, fragmented families and loss of language and culture.”