Magazine article Anglican Journal

A Birthday to Remember

Magazine article Anglican Journal

A Birthday to Remember

Article excerpt

IT WAS A sight to behold: six hundred cupcakes held high in the air, each one lit in honour of a birthday. The setting was the northern event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), held in Inuvik, NWT, in June.

One of the things we have learned from the survivors of the residential schools is that birthdays were not celebrated. So, in advance of this event, the participating churches, in consultation with the TRC, planned a party.

Over the course of several days, residential school survivors shared their stories. We heard cries of utter loneliness and despair, of many incidents of punishment for speaking their own language and numerous accounts of physical and sexual abuse. Survivors spoke of the long-term emotional impact of their experiences. A number spoke of diminished capacity for healthy and wholesome relationships in family life. They expressed deep remorse for having hurt their spouses and children and a deep desire to embrace them in new ways.

As one particular survivor came to the end of his story, he seemed to gather strength. Half sitting, half standing, he looked around and cried out through tears of joy, "I am no longer Number 148. I am Paul and I have a right to live and to be healthy and happy. …

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