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This article was published 26/10/2011 (2099 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
RESIDENTIAL school survivors will feel encouraged to come forward after University of Manitoba president David Barnard delivers a historic apology today, a member for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission predicts.
"The impact will be tremendously encouraging to survivors especially," Marie Wilson, one of three members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said Wednesday.
Barnard will appear before the commission in Halifax at 11:30 a.m. Manitoba time to apologize for the U of M's role in educating clergy, teachers and politicians who were involved in the residential school system.
Wilson confirmed it is the first time a university has apologized.
However, she said, "We have had correspondence before from individual faculties in other universities."
Other institutions and organizations have made "something we call a gesture in the spirit of reconciliation," she said.
"We did have a very important statement from the government of the Northwest Territories to rewrite the curriculum" for high school students' Canadian history courses, Wilson said.
She noted people and institutions such as the U of M are taking action as national hearings continue.
This is the third of seven national TRC hearings, which began in Winnipeg in June 2010.
The next hearings will occur in Saskatchewan next June, in a location that will be decided next month, Wilson told reporters in a teleconference call Wednesday.
Barnard's apology and statement of reconciliation will be telecast on both U of M campuses this morning. Barnard has declined to divulge the contents of his apology ahead of time.
Wilson said even though there was only one residential school in the Atlantic region, it operated for many decades and had a significant impact. "We'll have 1,000 or more survivors" in Halifax, she said.
Wilson said Saskatchewan has the most survivors in Canada, while the North has the highest proportion of survivors among its population.
Some survivors will tell their stories publicly, while others prefer a private setting, she said.
"In Winnipeg, we had one private statement gathering that was seven hours long."