April 14, 2014

EDMONTON – Some testimonies given at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission event "were very painful to hear," says the superior-general of the Grey Nuns.

Sister Jacqueline St-Yves said, "I think we have to accept that there were some things that were not quite right" in the running of the residential schools.

The Grey Nuns worked with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in about eight of the 15 Catholic residential schools in Alberta, St-Yves said. Altogether, more than 800 members of her order worked in about 20 different schools over many decades.

"A lot of those sisters are not alive anymore," she said. "So we cannot verify (the stories)."

St-Yves, nevertheless, said she was glad to attend the TRC national event in Edmonton and was heartened to hear of the many efforts being made at healing and reconciliation, such as those announced by Alberta mayors.

Edmonton, Calgary and Wetaskiwin have all set aside the next year as a year of reconciliation.


The Grey Nuns will also donate more than 3,000 photos taken at residential schools from their archives to the national archive that the TRC will establish in Winnipeg.

St-Yves said it was "so wonderful" to see many former residential school students coming to the Church archives section at the TRC to get copies of archival photos. The former students were very happy to acquire copies of photos of the sisters and their classmates.

"Many of our sisters loved the people very much. They worked very hard in the residential schools. It was not an easy time."

St-Yves acknowledged the sisters' story is not being heard and that has been hard on the sisters who worked at the schools. "They gave their lives for that."