It’s time to press the reset button on the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is setting the stage for that change, says Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.

In Victoria, hundreds of non-aboriginal people packed into rooms at Victoria Conference Centre late last week and listened to stories of horrific abuse at residential schools and brutally honest accounts of intergenerational problems caused by the disruption to culture and families.

Slowly, the realization is dawning that a more respectful relationship is beneficial to everyone, Atleo told an audience of high school students at an education forum organized by the commission.

“When First Nations are healed and supported and economic prosperity has been returned, it will make for a stronger Canada — and that’s what we all aspire to,” he said. “Let’s make this the country it can be, the one our ancestors imagined it could be.”

A key is supporting survivors of residential schools and making sure the story of Canada’s residential school history is understood by all Canadians, Atleo said.

Chief Wilton Littlechild, one of the three commissioners, who spent 14 years in residential school, said everyone needs to adopt the history as their own.

“This is Canada’s story. This is your story,” he told students.

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