For the child taken, for the parent left behind

Sister Mary Clare Stack OSU, Sister Jeannette Filthaut SP and Dr. Bob McKeon walking in the closing march of Truth and Reconciliation on a very cold March 30th day in Edmonton


Listen to your heart * Listen to the Creator * As leaders, as women, we have to be strong to stand alone and we have to move forward * Go beyond the evil dark energy * Put your children close to your heart * If you don’t have an elder adopt one to learn from them

These were just a few of the pearls of wisdom offered by some of the Aboriginal women and men who shared their sacred stories in Edmonton at the 7th National Truth and Reconciliation gathering. I participated in 3 of the 4 historical days – Thursday, volunteering at the Churches’ Centre; on Friday, watching the intense stories online; on Saturday, and then a half day on Sunday which included participation in the 15 block walk from the conference centre to the Legislature.

You can still visit to view some of the many videos and hear some of these profound and moving stories from the men and women who lived in Indian Residential Schools across this country. They were taken from their homes as very young children, given a number, separated from their siblings and their families, experiencing great loneliness and loss. Some had good experiences in the schools run by the federal government and religious congregations and denominations – and many others had very dark negative experiences, including loss of their innocence through sexual and physical abuse.

I cried many tears as I listened to the heartbreaking sacred stories being shared in the listening circles and before the Commissioners and honorary witnesses. The sharing brought forth some transformative reconciliation moments. Honorary witnesses, also moved to tears, gave testimony to what they heard, thereby giving strength and credibility to those who shared so passionately. The Bentwood Box that graced centre stage holds many offerings commemorating personal journeys toward healing and reconciliation. It will be housed in the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba.

There is much reconciliation still needed before equality can be fully experienced by all. I am so very grateful to have shared this historical moment in time with our indigenous peoples of Canada who still have so much to teach us in reverence and respect for our Creator and all of creation. Megwetch!