Survivors to swap stories at Yukon College

Hundreds of aboriginal Canadians who suffered through the federal government’s residential school program will gather in Whitehorse this week,…

Hundreds of aboriginal Canadians who suffered through the federal government’s residential school program will gather in Whitehorse this week, says the territory’s grand chief.

The gathering, called Revive, Reclaim, Respect Our Spirit, will see 500 residential school survivors from Yukon and northern BC attend a three-day conference to be held at Yukon College, said Andy Carvill last week.

“This is an historic event.

“It’s a forum for former residential students.

“I believe this is the first time something like this has taken place in the Yukon or in the North,” he said.

The conference starts Tuesday and runs until Thursday.

Funding came from Indian Residential Schools Canada, various levels of government and private business, said Carvill.

The conference will be an opportunity for residential school survivors to share their experience, strength and hope so they can move past the pain they suffered while they were taken away from their families and forced into residential schools, said Carvill.

“They suffered much and lost much when they were forced into residential schools.

“It’s time we started getting our stories out there.

“This agenda is their agenda.”

The former students will also be made aware of healing and mental health services that are available to them, said Carvill.

Legal information about the money residential school survivors will be receiving as part of Ottawa’s residential schools compensation package will also be provided, he added.

Under the compensation package, students will receive $10,000 for the first year they spent in the residential school system, and $3,000 for each additional year.

At the conference, students will also be provided with other information to help them deal with their settlement money, said Cathy Johnsen, director of Justice for the Council of Yukon First Nations.

Students will receive banking information as well as advice on the dangers of fraud and the importance of having a will.

Of the 930 residential school survivors in the Yukon, 245 of them are over the age of 65, according to the council.

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