As a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday marked the end of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, two women in the Maritimes reflected on the legacy of residential schools — and their ties to them.

At the ceremony, Governor General David Johnston called the end of the commission’s six-year task, gathering the often tragic stories of survivors, “a moment to reflect upon our history, our relationships, and our responsibilities towards each other.”

Back in Halifax, the call for reflection was heeded by Sister Joan O’Keefe of the Sisters of Charity, the group that operated the residential school in Shubenacadie, N.S.

Sister O’Keefe was among those invited to participate in the commission’s hearings.

“Some of the stories, I personally just dissolved in tears. I couldn't believe how traumatized people were by what happened to them,” she said.

Sister O’Keefe didn’t teach at the Shubenacadie residential school, but former nun Rose Salmons did.

That was 60 years ago, when she was 22 years old and known as Sister Joseph Celeste.

“We certainly didn't have any training for dealing with children who were taken from their homes and who really needed love,” Salmons said.

She says the 12 nuns teaching at Shubenacadie were barred in writing from showing love to a child.

“The closest we got to it was ‘Good night and God bless you,’” she said.

Linda Maloney, a Mi’kmaq women living in Nova Scotia, remembers her ten years at the Shubenacadie residential, starting out as a five-year-old and being forbidden from seeking comfort from her older sisters there.

“If you got up at night and went to try to see her or if she came to try to see you, you were spanked,” Maloney said.

Sister O’Keefe says now that the “truth” component about the commission’s work is done, the focus will have to turn to reconciliation.

She says that may take generations, and it will have to be personal.

“If I can just be a friend and join in something, I think that’s part of the reconciliation,” she said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Rick Grant