Our Stories… Our Strength
One of the Legacy of Hope Foundation’s largest and most important projects has been Our Stories… Our Strength, a national commemoration and education project that collects, organizes and shares the stories of Residential School Survivors and others affected by residential schools. The main goals we sought to achieve were to commemorate and honour Survivors and their experiences, to allow the history of residential schools to be told through the voices of Survivors themselves, to ensure that these stories and experiences were preserved for future generations, to assist Survivors in their healing journeys, and to promote reconciliation between generations of Aboriginal peoples and among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. Once collected, the LHF would utilize the stories to produce and develop a range of educational resources that would be made accessible to all Canadians.
With funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and Health Canada, the LHF worked with 22 Aboriginal communities and organizations from across Canada since 2005 to organize gatherings of Residential School Survivors and others impacted by residential schools. These gatherings provided a forum for Survivors, their families and communities to come together to share their experience with others, to learn about counseling services and healing programs available to them, to obtain information about issues related to residential schools, and most important, to have their residential school experiences recorded and preserved for future generations. These experiences were video and audio recorded through one-on-one interviews and through group discussions using Indigenous methodologies such as sharing and talking circles. These gatherings have also allowed others impacted by residential schools, including non-Aboriginal Canadians, to hear about the experiences of Survivors and to record their own memories and thoughts of the schools.