Shred­ding of res­i­den­tial school tes­ti­mony is a ‘blow to coun­try’

Many sur­vivors, gov­ern­ment ar­gue records should be pre­served

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - BETTY ANN ADAM

Canada “lost a sig­nif­i­cant amount of truth” about the worst abuses at In­dian res­i­den­tial schools with last week’s Supreme Court of Canada de­ci­sion that records should be de­stroyed, says the direc­tor of the National Cen­tre for Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“The truth is pow­er­ful but eas­ily sup­pressed,” Ry Mo­ran said Wednesday in Saska­toon.

The Supreme Court ruled that sur­vivors who told de­tailed ac­counts of hor­rific phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuses at In­dian res­i­den­tial schools in an as­sess­ment process to de­cide fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion were told their sto­ries would be kept pri­vate and signed con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments.

Many sur­vivors and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ar­gued that the records should be pre­served at the National Cen­tre, which houses the doc­u­ments gath­ered by the 200915 Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion and which is tasked with mak­ing the com­plete his­tory avail­able to all so that the cul­tural geno­cide com­mit­ted in the schools will al­ways be part of Canada’s his­tory.

The court agreed that peo­ple who now want their sto­ries pre­served will have that op­tion. The sto­ries of peo­ple who have al­ready died and those who fail to opt in will be de­stroyed.

“It was a blow to the coun­try” last Fri­day morn­ing when the court de­ci­sion was re­leased, Mo­ran said. “As of Thursday night, we ac­tu­ally knew, as a coun­try, the full ex­tent of the hor­rors in­flicted upon chil­dren in res­i­den­tial schools. We knew that. We had it. As of Fri­day morn­ing at 8:45 a.m. we lost it,” Mo­ran said.

“De­struc­tion is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing right now. The gov­ern­ment of Canada and all the churches that hold this col­lec­tion of in­for­ma­tion are ac­tu­ally un­der a court or­der to start de­stroy­ing. So this de­struc­tion is not in 15 years from now. It’s hap­pen­ing as we speak, in this present mo­ment.”

Eu­gene Ar­cand, who rep­re­sented Saskatchewan on the national sur­vivors’ com­mit­tee, said he is an­gry about the de­ci­sion.

“Canada’s dark­est se­cret has been opened up. It scares me when they try and do things like de­stroy records,” he said.

Sur­vivors who went through the in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment process were vic­tim­ized again by ad­ju­di­ca­tors who ques­tioned them on the ve­rac­ity of their rec­ol­lec­tions de­spite an as­sur­ance they would be given the ben­e­fit of the doubt, he added.

“It was sick­en­ing. I don’t need those peo­ple pro­tect­ing me and my fel­low sur­vivors don’t need those peo­ple pro­tect­ing them,” he said.

Of the 38,000 files, 32 per cent in­volved stu­dent-on-stu­dent abuse; 68 per cent told of abuse by staff, in­clud­ing the clergy.

It’s time for Canada to cre­ate the National Coun­cil for Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion that was called for by the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion, Mo­ran said.

MICHELLE BERG

Ry Mo­ran, direc­tor of the National Cen­tre for Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, says his­tory is be­ing lost with the de­struc­tion of sur­vivors’ tes­ti­mony about abuse at res­i­den­tial schools that was given dur­ing an as­sess­ment for com­pen­sa­tion. “The truth is pow­er­ful but eas­ily sup­pressed,” he says.

STEPHANIE MCKAY

Sa­man­tha Fair­weather, from left, Macken­zie Daw­son and Kaelee Dyck star in Grey­stone Theatre’s The Girl in the Gold­fish Bowl, which opens Fri­day at the U of S.

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