Abuse victims recount residential school heartbreak

CTV, Canada/April 25, 2013

Montreal - More witnesses, many speaking with voices choked with emotion, told their wrenching stories at the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings in Montreal Thursday.

One of the witnesses explained that recounting her sufferings was a nearly-impossible task.

"This is really difficult for me to say," said Sheri Lynne Neapetung, one of six survivors of Indian residential schools asked to tell her story on the day.

"It took a long time for me to remember that I was molested and I have no identity of my perpetrator because it happened at night."

The consequences have been devastating, she recounted.

"I've had repeated nightmares of a dark figures attacking me and this has lasted for many, many years," she said.

Others also struggled to speak, including one male witness who haltingly described the sexual abuse he underwent, one of many forms of abuse he and others fell victim to.

"Emotional, sexual, physical abuse, you name it, brainwashing, it was all there," said residential school survivor David Decontie.

He said he hopes to heal from the damage caused in his childhood.

"I still have a long road to go, it's not going to be easy," he said.

Another First Nations victim of the school scheme said that the trauma pushed her to alcoholism.

"I've cried many tears," said Lizzy Kasudluak. "I've filled maybe 10 buckets of tears in my lifetime."

And while others said that the hearing might help the healing process, the commissioner noted that it was also important to record the chapter as an important part of Canadian history.

"This country and those of us living in it will never be able to say that this did not happen in Canada," said Commissioner Marie Wilson.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was given a $60-million budget to hear from 150,000 aboriginals who were uprooted from their homes and culture and relocated to special boarding schools as children.

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