The year that was

2013 saw the Truth and Reconciliation Commission come to BC - there is much still be learned about residential schools.

Though this issue hits the streets on Christmas Eve, it will be the last of 2013.

That means it’s time for the New Year’s piece in this slot.

It’s been a year of change for many of us in the Boundary.

Some of those changes came out of the blue. For instance, at this time last year the BC NDP was thought by nearly everyone in the province to be a shoe-in to form the government in May.

One of the biggest stories of the year was a trip by high school students and staff to Vancouver on Sept. 19 to attend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Fostering Reconciliation through Education Day that was held at the Pacific Coliseum and PNE grounds.

The students came telling of something that had long been a shameful Canadian secret of how young children were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools.

This went on generation upon generation for over 120 years. Language and culture were lost. These institutions endeavored to “civilize” Native children through Christian teachings; forced separation from family, language, and culture; and strict discipline.

Bev Sellars is chief of the Xatsu’ll (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She holds a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia. She has served as an advisor to the British Columbia Treaty Commission.

Sellars broke her silence about the residential schools with her book They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School.

The book should be required reading in history classes in all Canadian schools.