An opportunity for powerful reconciliation gestures’

Published June 1, 2011

Reconciliation between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches and between Inuit and Dene students who attended residential schools in the North will be a focus of the second Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) national event this month.”Conflicts among school children along these two religious and ethnic lines are part of the residential school story in this region and across the North,” said the TRC in its concept paper for the event, scheduled for Jun. 28 to Jul. 1 in Inuvik, Northwest Territories (NWT).The majority of Inuit children attended Anglican-run residential schools, while most Dene children attended Catholic-run schools in the North. Rivalry between them was encouraged and friction continues to this day, TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson said in a recent meeting with church representatives. NWT had the highest ratio of residential school students per capita, and there is still an aboriginal majority population in two of the three territories. The event “presents an opportunity and potential for powerful reconciliation gestures,” she said. Fourteen residential schools in the NWT have been identified in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, whose parties include churches, the federal government and former students. That agreement led to the creation of the TRC. Before its five-year term ends in 2013, the TRC will hold a total of seven national events. The second TRC event is being hosted by the diocese of the Arctic under the direction of Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk. The Rev. David Parsons, Church of the Ascension in Inuvik, is coordinating local Anglican participation in the national event.The Anglican Church of Canada will be represented by the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Mark MacDonald, and national church staff. Ω


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