On June 20, 2018, the Truth and Reconciliation panel was unveiled in the Heritage Garden on the grounds of Caritas Residence in Halifax, NS.

Sisters, Associates, Mount Saint Vincent University community members and friends gathered for the simple unveiling ceremony. Dorene Bernard, a Shubenacadie Residential School survivor and whose work is featured on the “Truth” panel, offered a prayer. Sister Pat Kelly, a former teacher at Shubenacadie, was also in attendance.

“It’s really special and important that [Dorene] and Sister Pat would come be with us because I think that’s symbolic of how much we want to reconcile,” said Sister Joan O’Keefe.

The Indian Residential School system was established in 1867 with the goal of assimilating Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian society through its church-run, government-funded institutions. From its establishment until the closure of the last federally-run school in 1996, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were placed in residential schools across Canada. The students were punished for speaking their language, denied access to their culture and families, and, in many cases, suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

The Sisters of Charity-Halifax were teachers, cooks and in charge of domestic tasks at Shubenacadie (Shubenacadie, NS) and Kootenay, also known as St. Eugene’s (Cranbrook, BC).

“We can’t change the past, but we can listen deeply, with our hearts, to those who feel they can speak … we can work toward a future of hope, healing and right relationships.”