Going Home Star ballet: Canada’s TRC Final Report

Intergenerational trauma is real and alive in communities deeply affected by residential schools.  You can’t attempt cultural genocide for 140 years, for seven generations—the last of these schools closing their doors in 1996—and not expect some very real fallout from that.—Author Joseph Boyden

The Final Report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its six-year investigation of the residential school system for Aboriginal youth and the legacy of these schools, in the summary volume, includes the history of residential schools, the legacy of that school system, and the full text of the Commission’s 94 recommendations for action to address that legacy.  This report lays bare a part of Canada’s history that until recently was little-known to most non-Aboriginal Canadians.  The Commission discusses the logic of the colonization of Canada’s territories, and why and how policy and practice developed to end the existence of distinct societies of Aboriginal peoples.

Using brief excerpts from the powerful testimony heard from Survivors, this report documents the residential school system which forced children into institutions where they were forbidden to speak their language, required to discard their clothing in favour of institutional wear, given inadequate food, housed in inferior and fire-prone buildings, required to work when they should have been studying, and subjected to emotional, psychological and often physical abuse. In this setting, cruel punishments were all too common, as was sexual abuse.

More than 30,000 Survivors have been compensated financially by the Government of Canada for their experiences in residential schools, but the legacy of this experience is ongoing today.  This report explains the links to high rates of Aboriginal children being taken from their families, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and high rates of suicide.  The report documents the drastic decline in the presence of Aboriginal languages, even as Survivors and others work to maintain their distinctive cultures, traditions, and governance.  [PAPERBACK, Publisher:Lorimer; First Edition edition (July 23, 2015), ISBN: 978-1459410671]

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Truth, Reconciliation, and Art’s Ability to Heal: Joseph Boyden, author of the award-winning novels Three Day Road and The Orenda, has created a ballet inspired by a dark past that premiered October 1, 2014 performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  “The idea of a ballet to commemorate the years of pain, the years of calling on survivors to come forth and allow their experiences to be recorded and archived, the years of making sure that our country never forgets, needed to end in a surge of beauty across a stage,” Boyden said. “I wanted the heart of the ballet to centre on the teachings of the four directions and the traditional First Nations’ colours that they represent.  This would offer the story a natural structure and would allow me to create principal characters who could interact with one another.”  He wrote about the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering back in 2010. It was called “The hurting.”  [http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-hurting/]

A Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and author of the current bestseller The Orenda, Joseph Boyden is one of Canada’s most prominent writers.

BALLET LINK: http://www.macleans.ca/culture/macleans-live-truth-reconciliation-and-arts-ability-to-heal/

Read more about Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation here. [http://www.macleans.ca/culture/arts/joseph-boyden-creates-a-ballet/]

And here is Boyden on what comes after the TRC. (The hard part.) http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/first-came-truth-now-comes-the-hard-part/

 

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