From the March 12, 2010 Winnipeg Free Press
Justice Sinclair gives blessing at acclaimed play
By Adam Wazny
THE moment was not lost on Murray Sinclair.
Sinclair, the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice, who serves as the chairman of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, had the honour of giving the traditional blessing before the critically acclaimed play Where the Blood Mixes at Prairie Theatre Exchange Thursday night.
The play tells the story of two aboriginal men fighting the demons of their experiences in the residential school system while managing the emotion of their current, everyday situations.
"It's a very important evening for everyone here," Sinclair said prior to delivering the blessing. "Because of the nature of the work we're doing (with the commission), the whole issue of how this story becomes revealed within families becomes doubly important."
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a five-year investigation designed to document the history and examine the impact the residential school system had on aboriginal people in Canada.
The schools, institutions operated by the church on behalf of the federal government designed to integrate aboriginal children into mainstream culture, were first opened up in the late 1800s. Manitoba was home to 15 residential schools, the last of which shut its doors in 1980.
Margo Kane, one of the actresses in Where the Blood Mixes, currently touring Canada,
and Justice Murray Sinclair at the play’s Winnipeg opening.
(photo courtesy of Lisa Meeches)
Working Together for a Better Future
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada participated in the Journey of Heroes Indian Residential School Conference held in Deroche, British Columbia from January 19-21, 2010.
The Conference theme was "Working Together for a Better Future." TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair delivered the keynote address also led a number of sessions. One day of activities at the meeting were given over to TRC-related events, including statement gathering.
The Conference was organized by Chehalis Health & Family Services in partnership with Sto:lo Nation Health.
A key element of the conference was the honouring of 85 former residential school students. For the ceremony, the entranceway to the community hall was adorned with cedar boughs intended to cleanse away negative thoughts. At the event, each of the school survivors was covered with a special blanket and headband.
A canoe was specially commissioned for the event, a symbol of the need for all to work together if progress is to be made. Survivors were invited to take a chip from the canoe as a reminder of the need to provide support to one another.
Organizers: Left to Right: Jason Malloway, Master of Ceremonies; Ginny Peters, Health Manager for Chehalis Band, Diane Garner (Technical Coordinator) and Brenda Pierre (Cultural Coordinator) of Chehalis Band and Eddie Gardner, Conference Coordinator.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada appoints new directors
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is pleased announce the recruitment of four senior staff members:
• Lisa Meeches, Director, Events Planning and Artistic Programming
Lisa Meeches has been the Executive Producer of Eagle Vision Inc. and Meeches Video Productions, two Winnipeg-based Aboriginal production companies that she founded. Eagle Vision was a co-production company on the film Capote and the television movie Elijah. Meeches has been the executive producer, director, and host of The Sharing Circle and the executive producer of Tipi Tales. With 25 years experiences in broadcasting, she is the recipient of the 2007 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media and Communication, the 2009 YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in the area of Creative Communications, and the 2009 University of Manitoba Excellence in Aboriginal Business Leadership Award.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair, Commissioner Marie Wilson, Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild, members of the TRC Survivor Committee and staff were welcomed to the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations on January 12, 2010 in Tofino, British Columbia.
A morning ceremony and welcome feast in the evening were held by hereditary chiefs and community members in honour of the Commission, which travelled to the west coast to hold meetings of the Survivor Committee at the Tin Wis Resort, a site where a former residential school once stood.
Justice Sinclair expressed gratitude for the special welcome and especially thanked the many youth, Elders and former residential school survivors who came out to greet the Commission with traditional songs and cultural dance.
The TRC also welcomed the presence of Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo in his home territory. Chief Atleo reaffirmed the commitment of the AFN in supporting the work of the Commissioners and Survivor Committee members in carrying out the mandate of the Commission.
Chair Justice Sinclair extended an invitation to the National Chief to attend the First National Event of the TRC, slated for June 15-19, 2010 at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba .
Nuu-chah-nulth Hereditary Chiefs welcome TRC
TRC opens new office, appoints new Executive Director
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has opened its new headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba and appointed a new Executive Director, Tom McMahon.
Memory Book and Statement Gathering
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Memory Book is now available in an electronic form. The Memory Book is a guide for Canadians who want to share their residential school experiences with the TRC.
It contains a brief description of the role of the TRC, things to consider when writing about your experiences, information about resources that are available to people involved in the TRC process, and suggested topics.
Anyone who has experiences that they would like to share with Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is encouraged to download the book, fill it out, and send it back, along with a completed consent form (which is included in the book). It is also available in French and Inuktitut.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has also begun collecting statements directly from former residential school students and others. In 2009, TRC representatives attended the St. Charles Garnier and St. Joseph’s Residential School Reunion in Spanish, Ontario and a gathering of former residential school students organized by the Indian Residential School Survivors Society in Kamloops, British Columbia. There they recorded statements from many of the reunion participants. In 2010, the statement gathering process will continue to expand.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 1500-360 Main
Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3Z3