Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says today (Dec. 15) marks the beginning of a new chapter in relations between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.

"I stand before you here, hopeful that we are at a threshold of a new era in this country, said Sinclair to an emotionally charged room filled with many residential school survivors and their families, moments before he unveiled the commission's final report in Ottawa.
    The final report is a detailed account, spanning nearly 4,000 pages, of what happened to indigenous children who were physically and sexually abused in government boarding schools.
    Two chairs at the front of the room were left empty to symbolize the more than 3,200 indigenous children who died in residential schools — a number Sinclair estimates to be much higher.

    Sinclair along with commissioners chief Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson, spent the past six years hearing heartbreaking testimony from more than 6,000 residential school survivors who were abused and lived to tell their stories.

    "Each and every one of us who listened to them would go home at the end of each day," Sinclair said, his voice choked with emotion, "and we would hold our children, our grandchildren, closer as we proceeded.

    "Not so much to protect them from some invisible force, but to gain the strength that we would need each day to go forth and to listen once again."
    Sinclair, Manitoba's first Aboriginal judge, spoke of the impact the commission's work had on his health and his family.

    "I have a wife and a family, who need me, and whose love and support have carried me to this point. They have supported me in this work but at great loss to the relationships we could have had and which we will now try to recapture," said a visibly moved Sinclair.