The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is responsible for collecting the stories of residential school survivors, and soon it will have a new place to keep them all.
The federal government is making a multi-million dollar commitment to help build a new permanent home here in Winnipeg.
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission went across Canada, teacher Laurie McDonald publicly shared his story of enduring life in a residential school.
“I gave permission for my story to be told wherever, for the purposes of education. Because there will come a day when we won’t be around,” McDonald told CTV News.
But he said his mother and sister did not. Instead, they hoped their stories of survival would be kept in one place, where they would be safe.
That hope is about to come true.
The federal government is spending $60 million toward the cost of a permanent home for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.
“I think everyone is eager to see this building built and see progress be made. And most importantly for survivors that are looking for more answers and a better way to get them,” Marc Miller, the federal Crown-Indigenous relations minister, said during a news conference in Winnipeg on Wednesday.
Ottawa will also spend another $28.5 million over the next five years to support the centre’s work – collecting residential school records and supporting community-led efforts to locate and identify unmarked graves.
“This is an important day because as we all know, the work of truth and reconciliation is far from over,” said Stephanie Scott, the centre’s executive director.
Murray Sinclair, the former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said this new permanent home is an important step on that journey.
“There are still a lot of deniers out there,” he said. “And we have to understand those deniers will gain a foothold if we allow the memory to fade.”
McDonald believes by housing their stories in a permanent home, the memories will never fade. It’s hoped the work will be completed within the next five years.
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