Residential school survivors have begun to tell their stories today at the Prince Albert Indian and Metis Friendship Centre.
This morning marked the start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s visit to the city.
Opening statements were made before officials talked about the role and purpose of the hearings.
Marie Wilson is one of the lead commissioners with the TRC.
She says all of the information taken from down the survivors will be carefully preserved for future use:
“We must establish as part of our mandate a national research centre — so that once we have uncovered our layers of ignorance, and we have learned all that we need to know about this story, that we make sure that we never forget it.”
Art Fourstar was the first survivor to take the microphone this morning.
He described how an RCMP officer and school supervisor forced their way into his house while he was playing on the floor and his mother was making bannock.
The officer held his mother back while he was grabbed by the supervisor and thrown into the car.
He tried to escape and ended up being tied down and later beaten before being driven to a school in Byrtle, Manitoba:
“Going from home from my mother to residential school, it was like going from daylight to darkness, from love to hatred.”
Fourstar says he underwent, physical, sexual and emotional abuse during his time at residential school and had no identity when he got out.
He adds he was only four-and-a-half years old when he was first taken and he wasn’t able to go home for five years.
The commission’s hearing in Prince Albert run until Thursday afternoon.