Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/5/2010 (3431 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Would you open your home to a residential school survivor? How about your mind?
A shortage of hotel rooms has the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada asking Winnipeggers to host folks here for a national gathering June 16-19 at The Forks.
It's the first of seven national get-togethers organizers say could draw as many as 15,000 people.
"When there are events like this combined with smaller events, the area can fill up pretty quickly," said Jim Baker, president of the Manitoba Hotel Association.
"For downtown hotels, June, July and August is typically the most busy time," he said. "Rooms may be scarce, but there will be some availability," he said. "Undoubtedly, rooms will be available in the Polo Park-airport area and suburban hotels like the Canad Inns Garden City."
But someone on a tight budget looking for a hotel room close to The Forks might be out of luck.
"Two or three weeks out, you'd like to know you've got a place to sleep," said Baker.
The lack of vacancies is good for the hotel industry and could be good for the commission that's trying to get people to reach out to each other to heal wounded relationships.
"It's called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but it's only successful if it brings aboriginal and non-aboriginal people closer together," said Karen Busby, a University of Manitoba law professor.
She's organizing students, teachers and lawyers to help out at the public gathering at The Forks. There will be an academic conference and law students and lawyers from Thompson Dorfman Sweatman will be volunteering in the learning tent. As well as some legal direction to survivors, they will offer information to the uninformed — of which there are many, said Busby.
"'Gee, I had no idea' is the response you get all the time," said Busby, who teaches constitutional law.
"A lot of people don't know what a treaty is — that it has constitutional status and protections," she said.
Aboriginal people didn't get the land base nor the rights they were supposed to, yet many people today think they're receiving "special privileges," she said.
Since the 1870s, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in Indian residential schools — often against their parents' wishes. The government-funded, church-run schools were designed to end parental involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of aboriginal children.
Kids were forbidden to speak their language and practise their own culture. As adults in the early 1990s, some of them filed lawsuits claiming compensation for the physical and sexual abuse they suffered at school and for the loss of language, culture, family and community. The commission estimates there are 80,000 former students living today, and the fallout from residential schools is still contributing to social problems. Its mandate is to address the wrongs of the residential schools so people can move past the social ills toward a healthier future.
If you would like to host a residential school survivor during their stay, please contact the Truth and Reconciliation office at 984-5885.
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.