“We weren’t rewarded for good behaviour. We were only disciplined for bad behaviour, and it took its toll on me… I became withdrawn, painfully shy, and I just couldn’t communicate with anyone. I couldn’t receive love or show anyone love. I didn’t even love myself.” 

– Brenda Cardinal, Indian Residential School Survivor

Painful stories such as that shared by Ms. Cardinal are now increasingly coming to light. Yet, until recently, most non-Aboriginal Canadians knew little, and thought even less, about the experience of First Nations in residential schools. Hoping to stimulate both greater awareness among non-Aboriginals and genuine healing for First Nations survivors, the federal government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement implemented in Sept. 2007.

Among those contracted to produce scholarly work for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is VIU’s Dr. Laurie Meijer Drees of the First Nations Studies department. A member of the TRC’s Indian Residential School Missing Children team, Dr. Meijer Drees will be presenting some of her new findings at the next session of the Arts and Humanities Colloquium series to be held Feb. 15, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Malaspina Theatre. Based on previously restricted records held by the federal government and various churches, her free public lecture is entitled, “The TRC, Missing Children, and Academic History.”

Acknowledging that “anecdotal and oral histories” have provided significant insights into the workings of the residential schools, Drees notes that the recently opened records reveal heretofore undocumented connections between “schools, hospitals, corrections facilities, and various policing agencies” in the management of First Nations children. As residential schools remain an open wound in the relationship between First Nations and non-Aboriginals, Drees will also speak to how her TRC experience relates to the broader question of the role of academic research in Canadian politics.

A time for questions and discussion will follow Dr. Drees’ presentation. All are welcome to attend and join in the conversation. Refreshments will be provided.

Offering a series of free public lectures, the Arts and Humanities Colloquium aims to introduce students, and residents throughout central Vancouver Island, to some of the innovative and thought-provoking research conducted by VIU faculty. The Spring 2013 series will conclude on Mar. 22 when Dr. John Lepage from the English department will present on the topic “Renaissance Art and the Ancient Philosophers: A Study in the Representation of Ideas.”

For more information, contact Dr. Daniel Burgoyne at 250-753-3245, local 2126 or <Daniel.Burgoyne@viu.ca>