On June 11, 2008, then Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, made a Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools on behalf of the Government of Canada for the emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, cultural and mental abuse they experienced while in care at the schools, and as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and Common Experience Payment process.

More than five generations of Indigenous children were often not provided with a proper education, nutrition, and care while in the schools and the detrimental effects on them and their families have severely impeded their ability to develop life skills and/or to thrive as adults or as parents. These deep traumas along with all forms of racism that still exists have significantly contributed to the social and economic conditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada today, such as poverty, the loss of language, culture, identity, poor mental and physical health factors, disruption of family and community relationships, traditions, etc. Many First Nations chose not to participate and receive the payments, and/or were not included in the process, if their school records could not be found. Students who attended Day Schools were not recognized either. Both Inuit and Metis children also attended Residential Schools, however due to jurisdictional issues many were excluded from the Apology, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Common Experience Payment process.

This 10th Year Commemorative Exhibit was created to acknowledge the dark chapter in Canada’s history, to remember the Survivors who made it out of the Schools, and to honour those who did not, so that we can learn, change, take action and build respectful relationships between Canadians and Indigenous Peoples moving forward. These relationships must be based on integrity, understanding, empathy, and appreciation for their resilience of Indigenous Peoples and for the many invaluable contributions that formed the foundation of this country we now share. This Exhibit provides all Canadians with a unique opportunity to reflect on what they have learned, what actions they can take and what Reconciliation means for them and what they want for the journey forward.

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