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National Advisory Committee hosts community knowledge sharing event in Nova Scotia

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The National Advisory Committee on missing children and unmarked graves hosted a community event in Truro Saturday to bring together the voices of residential school survivors.

“To be able to come together and offer that support and be able to share those stories and share those steps on that journey to healing is important,” said Harley Crowshoe, member on the National Advisory Committee.

The goal of the event is to highlight the voices of survivors in Atlantic Canada and build relationships with them, said Kisha Supernant, member of the National Advisory Committee and director of the Institute of Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta.

“Taking away where some of the gaps and barriers might be for the community,” Supernant said. “Meaning we can develop resources or provide additional information be able to continue the support so this is not just a one-off event, but really the start of a relationship.”

A panel of Shubenacadie residential school survivors carried the weight of history of not just their experiences but those around them.

“Truth is truth. We have to keep with that. It’s important that we keep those words alive and the memory alive for their sake. Not just for ours, but theirs. For those kids who never returned home,” said Allan Knockwood, elder and residential school survivor.

Ground-penetrating radar was used to search Shubenacadie residential school 2021; however, researchers did not find graves connected to the institution, but 139 children remain missing. Knockwood said former workers and residents insist not everyone was laid to rest.

“You know there’s three methods disposal at hand at Suhbenancide: One the pig farm, two the river itself, and unfortunately the furnace.”

The Committee also provided support to survivors who want to access their school record and collecting statements.

“As time progressed and there were changes to the structure of different church groups, records moved across the country as well and were dispersed in various repositories,” said Jesse Boiteau, Senior Archivist for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation,.

The National Advisory Committee started community events in the Northwest Territories in June. Atlantic Canada was the second stop. Over the next year community meetings will continue across the country.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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