Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Part Two

In my last post, I started to share my experience at the TRC Alberta National Event held at the Shaw Conference Centre March 27-30.

As I listened to these stories, my own family’s history started to pop up in my head. I started to think about the stories that my grandfather used to tell me of Reverend Samuel Trivett (his Grandfather) and his work in Alberta at the turn of the century. He was a missionary sent by the Anglican church to “work” on the Blood Reserve (close to what is now Waterton National Park). I heard stories about his commitment and dedication to his faith and the good work that he did to build schools that brought Christianity to the indigenous community. It wasn’t until I heard the stories of the residential school survivors that it dawned on me what my Great, Great grandfather had done in Alberta. He was a colonizer; he was creating the infrastructure that lead to the cultural assimilations of thousands of indigenous people in Alberta. His work led the creation of St. Paul’s Residential School, which still stands today in Cardston, AB. This revelation was very painful to discover, particularly in the context of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is something that I will carry with me for a long time as I struggle to find my role and my place in the process of reconciliation.

Reverend Samuel Trivett on the Blood Reserve, back row, third from the left.

Although I am not my Great, Great grandfather, and I am not responsible for his actions, his story is mine; he is a part of my history and my identity. Just like young indigenous people, I am impacted by our shared history. The difference is that my history is connected to privilege and our indigenous community members’ history is connected to oppression. We are all connected to our past. If you explore your own story, you may find that your history is also connected to the legacy of residential schools; you may not. Regardless, as Edmontonians, we all face the challenge of moving towards reconciliation and we must do this. We must do this to stop the fear, we must do this to stop the blame, and we must do this to connect as a community.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about the process of reconciliation, and what that means for communities.