Witnessing the Power of Truth and Reconciliation

Dr. Judith Oleson

Throughout Canada’s history, generations of Aboriginal children in Quebec were taken from their families and communities and sent to Indian Residential Schools funded by the federal government and run by churches. They were denied use of their language, cultural identity and traditions, and the devastating impact of that tragic policy is still seen throughout the culture today. That’s why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has begun holding community hearings throughout Quebec with its culminating national event in Montreal, Canada.

From April 24-27, Dr. Judith Oleson, associate professor of social work and director of Gordon’s  peace and conflict studies program whose scholarship includes public apologies and racial justice, will travel with four of her students enrolled in PCS 375 Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation to Montreal. Together, they’ll participate in Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Event.  

Here’s what Oleson said before the trip: “By going to the TRC, we’ll have the unique privilege of witnessing testimonies of First Nation survivors of cultural genocide due to government policies. We will be able to interview both survivors and church representatives while exploring the relationship between the TRC event, public apology and meaningful reconciliation processes.  Then during the second week of May, our students will present their initial findings for the Gordon community.  It really is an unprecedented experience for those of us interested in conflict and peace studies to engage in such primary research and to hear first hand the stories of those who endured such tragedies. I have no doubt that our students—Serene King, Alex Clark, Ronesha WIlliams and Anna Soukenik—attending this important historical event with me will be deeply affected by this exchange, as I have been every time I participate in these reconciliation efforts.  We are grateful and humbled for the opportunity.”  GCSA Student Conference Fund and The Initiative for the Study and Practice of Peace provided traveling funding for Oleson and her students.

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