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Northern healing centre 'critically needed'
Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations released in interim report on Friday

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, February 25, 2012

The history and impact of residential schools should be taught in schools around Canada and a healing centre should be set up in Nunavut or the NWT, according the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its interim report, released Friday.

NNSL photo/graphic

Simon Nattaq, left, comforts residential school survivor Boacie Ootoova, who was one of the 17 people to speak to the Truth and Reconciliation commission in Iqaluit in March 2011. - NNSL file photo

Justice Murray Sinclair, the commission's chairman, along with commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson, made 20 recommendations in their interim report.

Among them were that the federal government establish a Northern mental health and healing centre in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories as it is "critically needed" for residential school survivors, their families and their communities.

Also recommended is that copy of the apology the federal government made in June 2008 to all former students of residential schools should be sent to all survivors as well as all secondary schools in the country. The report notes the actual wording of the apology received limited exposure.

The commission was created in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the largest class action settlement of its kind in Canada. Its goal is to educate Canadians on the history and impact of residential schools and promote reconciliation between aboriginal families, churches, governments and communities.

As well, the report recommends each province and territory develop educational campaigns so the public learns about the history and impact of residential schools in their respective jurisdictions.

The commission also reached six conclusions on the residential school system; namely, residential schools caused immediate impacts and constituted an assault on aboriginal children, their families and their culture.

Pangnirtung senior administrative officer Ron Mongeau said Aboriginal Healing Foundation funding should have never been cut-off on March 31, 2010.

"I think the prime minister's apology should be much wider disseminated. I think that's critical," he said. "I think the one thing the report of the commission shows us is that there is long-term, ongoing trauma and there is a need for additional opportunities for Northerners to heal. So a Northern healing centre is certainly something that is long, long, long overdue."

Resolute Mayor Tabitha Mullin said the healing centre is going to be very helpful for those that need counselling.

"If there is a facility close by here in Nunavut, where they sort of all understand each other, I think it's a very good idea," she said.

Kugaaruk Mayor Stephan Inaksajak echoed a similar sentiment, saying the healing centre is a good idea, as is educating today's students about the history of residential schools. He added the students would learn what happened to their elders.

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