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Message from the President and Commissioners

Message from the President, University of Manitoba

Michael Benarroch

The University of Manitoba is honoured to host the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation on the Fort Garry campus, and to be a part of the NCTR’s crucial work in advancing reconciliation.  

In October of 2011, UM became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to offer a formal Statement of Apology and Reconciliation to Residential School Survivors (PDF), acknowledging our failure to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Indigenous peoples that resulted in the loss of their languages, cultures and traditions. The University of Manitoba remains committed to honouring the words and intention of that historic apology, and working with our partners, to ensure we support the NCTR in achieving its mandate. 

I hope this website inspires you to learn about the residential school system and its legacy. I encourage everyone to explore its contents, attend events, and continue learning. We all must recognize our part in reconciliation.

That is why our UM community is working to facilitate education, dialogue and action around the 94 Calls to Action. We acknowledge our responsibility in accomplishing this work through meaningful dialogue and action for a better future for all people, especially as the host of the NCTR. 

We are honoured to continue to work with the NCTR to support our communities and the rest of Canada along the connected reconciliation path.

Michael Benarroch

University of Manitoba President

Message from the First President

Message from the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)/Honorary Patrons of the NCTR

Left to right: Dr. Marie Wilson, Justice Murray Sinclair and Chief Wilton Littlechild

Establishing a national Centre to forever preserve the truths of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools was one of the most important responsibilities given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). As part of the TRC’s legal mandate, this responsibility is spelled out in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, signed in 2007 by representatives of Survivors, Aboriginal groups, the federal government and the churches.

In order to carry out this part of our mandate, we convened an international gathering of experts on Aboriginal community control, and on national and international principles, protocols and best practices for Indigenous and human rights archiving. Later, we called for submissions from organizations wishing to host the National Centre. On June 21, 2012, it was our honour to announce that the national Centre would be hosted by the University of Manitoba in cooperation with a wide network of partners across Canada.

In the words of the Settlement Agreement, the TRC was established out of a “compelling desire to put the events of the past behind us so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future.”

In order to do this, the TRC worked tirelessly to discover exactly what it was that former students of the Residential Schools and all Canadians need to leave behind.

The answers are contained in nearly 7,000 video statements of Survivors and intergenerational Survivors of the schools, and in the millions of documents from government and churches that attest to their experience. These sacred documents form the core of the NCTR archive, accessible to all Canadians for all time.

Survivors told us they need to leave behind the shame and hurt caused by the assault on their languages, cultures, spirituality, traditions, families and communities. Intergenerational Survivors told us they need to leave behind the confusion and dysfunction they so often inherited. Non-Aboriginal Canadians told us they needed to leave behind their ignorance of the Residential School history and legacy – ignorance that fuels racism and restricts Canada’s potential.

Ironically, putting the past behind us means preserving it with purpose and dedication – so we can remember the lessons it teaches as we move forward.

As TRC Commissioners, we are deeply grateful to all those who contributed statements and documents to the TRC and to the university, and to all the individuals and groups who now continue to contribute to the remarkable and enduring Indigenous archive.

TRC Commissioners and NCTR Honorary Patrons

Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair

Dr. Marie Wilson

Chief Wilton Littlechild

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NCTR’s spirit name – bezhig miigwan, meaning “one feather”.

Bezhig miigwan calls upon us to see each Survivor coming to the NCTR as a single eagle feather and to show those Survivors the same respect and attention an eagle feather deserves. It also teaches we are all in this together — we are all one, connected, and it is vital to work together to achieve reconciliation.