Meet the Survivors Circle
Residential school Survivors gave Indigenous and non-Indigenous people the opportunity to begin this journey: The gift of reconciliation. It was Survivors that demanded government and church entities to be held responsible and held accountable for their actions. They also called for the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). Survivors continue to be the foundation of truth and reconciliation work in this country.
A seven-member Survivors Circle guides the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). These members:
- Ensure that Survivors’ voices and perspectives remain central to NCTR programs and policies
- Provide guidance and advice to the NCTR, the Governing Circle, the University of Manitoba and partners on anything important to the broader Survivor community.
“I had great pleasure serving on the first Survivors Circle of the NCTR. It is important to have the Survivor voice in the development and decision making of the Centre. This will ensure inclusivity, balance and truth in the reflection of “our legacy” for future generations.” ~ Terri Brown, Survivor and the Chair of the NCTR founding Survivors Circle
Lila Bruyere, Dancing Eagle Woman, is Ojibway from Counchiching First Nation located on Treaty 3 Territory. She has raised three…
Lila Bruyere, Dancing Eagle Woman, is Ojibway from Counchiching First Nation located on Treaty 3 Territory. She has raised three sons on her own. She is a grandmother to seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Lila is a Residential School and an intergenerational Survivor. She attended St. Margaret’s Residential School in Fort Frances, Ontario, as did her parents and siblings.
Lila has worked in the field of addictions for 15 years. She received certifications in Addictions, earned her Bachelor of Honours of Social Work (HBSW) from Carleton University and completed her Masters in Social Work – Indigenous Field of Study at Wilfred Laurier University.
Lila’s goal is to continue passing on her message of hope to other Survivors to begin their healing journey. To do this, she developed, with her son, a workshop titled Intergeneration: Mother & Son’s Healing Journey. Also, she is writing a book about resiliency, to give hope and to help fellow Survivors.
Wanbdi Wakita is a Dakota Spiritual Leader who has spent a lifetime making prayers for people. As a residential school…
Wanbdi Wakita is a Dakota Spiritual Leader who has spent a lifetime making prayers for people. As a residential school survivor, peacekeeper with the Canadian Armed Forces, Chief of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and Sundance Chief, Wanbdi has walked many paths. For over three decades he provided counseling and ceremony to inmates in various Correctional Institutions. Presently he is the Grandfather in Residence for the University of Manitoba Access Program. In 2016 he received the Order of Manitoba for his lifelong work to champion a message of healing and unity between all nations. Wanbdi possesses a rare breadth of traditional, cultural, and sacred knowledge.
Phyllis Googoo is a member of the Waycobah First Nation. She and her husband Bernie are the proud parents of…
Phyllis Googoo is a member of the Waycobah First Nation. She and her husband Bernie are the proud parents of three children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. As a Mi’kmaw speaker and life-long advocate of the Mi’kmaw language, Phyllis raised her children to be fluent in Mi’kmaq. Phyllis has also always loved teaching.
She is a graduate of the Nova Scotia Teachers College and St. Francis Xavier University, and currently works and teaches at the Waycobah First Nation School. Phyllis is an Assembly of First Nation Regional Elder, and a member of the We’koqma’q Elders Council, the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, and the women’s drum group We’koqma’qewiskwa’q. In 2008, she received the Grand Chief Donald Marshall Sr. Elder Achievement Award recognizing her lifelong contribution to the Mi’kmaw community.
Jimmy Durocher was raised by his Métis grandmother whom Jimmy identifies as his role model of strength and resilience. He…
Jimmy Durocher was raised by his Métis grandmother whom Jimmy identifies as his role model of strength and resilience. He attended the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School in Northern Saskatchewan and is currently the Chairperson of the Île-à-la-Crosse Residential School Committee. He is a Veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force, board member of the Gabriel Dumont Institute and a former President of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan. Fluent in both Michif and Cree, Jimmy is currently the President of the Métis local in Île-à-la-Crosse.
A Cree from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Eugene Arcand spent nine years at the St. Michael Indian…
A Cree from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Eugene Arcand spent nine years at the St. Michael Indian Residential School in Duck Lake and two years at the St. Paul’s Lebret Students Residence, both in Saskatchewan. First Nation Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Arcand has dedicated much of his time to organizing regional and national events – First Nations sports events, cultural events, tourism events, and events geared to the advancement of First Nations youth.
Over the past few years, through the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Committee at the TRC and the NCTR Governing Circle, Eugene has worked to ensure that both the public and Survivor communities are kept informed of the developments and processes associated with the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. Eugene was successful because of the support and love of his family and wife Lorna Arcand, who he has been married to for 48 years.Together, they raised three children, seven grandchildren and three chapan.
Garnet is Anishinaabe originally from the traditional territory of the Lac Seul First Nation. He left there to attend Pelican Indian…
Garnet is Anishinaabe originally from the traditional territory of the Lac Seul First Nation. He left there to attend Pelican Indian Residential School near Sioux Lookout, ON from 1963 to 1969. He graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario in London, ON. Garnet worked for many years at Wawatay Native Communications Society in northern Ontario. He also worked at CBC Thunder Bay.
Garnet has been a strong supporter for residential school survivors at the national, regional and local levels. He was a board member of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
He has worked to bridge relations and is an advocate for reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous people. In 2012 he was made a member of the Order of Canada. He is also a recipient of the 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal and the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.
Maata Evaluardjuk-Palmer is one of the last generation of Elders born and raised out on the traditional lands of the…
Maata Evaluardjuk-Palmer is one of the last generation of Elders born and raised out on the traditional lands of the Inuit. During her youth Maata survived in a natural environment with her family before they were relocated to Frobisher Bay, Nunavut by the Government of Canada. This resulted in a culture shock as many families were removed from their traditional lifestyles and placed into a settled Canadian styled community. As a child Maata attended the Apex Federal Day School from 1960 to 1967, then attended Churchill Vocational School from 1967 to 1968 and went on to Keewatin Community College for Office Management.
Maata has sat on many boards such as the YMCA, the Mid-Wifery Training Program, the Manitoba Inuit Association Band, Inuit Health Research Committee, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s Survivors Circle. Maata is a grandmother and great-grandmother who enjoys being involved in community events and educational programming whenever she can.
Phyllis Webstad is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band). She comes from mixed…
Phyllis Webstad is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band). She comes from mixed Secwepemc and Irish/French heritage, was born in Dog Creek, and lives in Williams Lake, BC. Today, Phyllis is married, has one son, a step-son and five grandchildren. She is the Executive Director of the Orange Shirt Society, and tours the country telling her story and raising awareness about the impacts of the residential school system. She has now published two books, the “Orange Shirt Story” and “Phyllis’s Orange Shirt” for younger children.
She earned diplomas in Business Administration from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology; and in Accounting from Thompson Rivers University. Phyllis received the 2017 TRU Distinguished Alumni Award for her unprecedented impact on local, provincial, national and international communities through the sharing of her orange shirt story.
Edna Elias was called by her grandmother, “Haattuliarmiutaq”, meaning “a person from thin ice” because she was born on a…
Edna Elias was called by her grandmother, “Haattuliarmiutaq”, meaning “a person from thin ice” because she was born on a fishing lake in the fall. Thus the reason why she loves ice fishing in the fall and spring.
A teacher by profession, Edna is an Inuit language and cultural advocate. She has lived and breathed her culture in an urban setting; showcasing it where and when she can at Edmonton events. She shares her cultural knowledge through presentations at educational institutions and elementary schools in and around the city. Teaching Inuinnaqtun, the dialect of the Copper Inuit of western Kitikmeot in Nunavut is another passion to train adults, language teachers, staff of pre-school and daycare programs, educators and parents of small children.
After five years as Commissioner of Nunavut, Edna had returned to her home community of Qurluqtuq, Nunavut, the most westerly community in Nunavut. Since her return home, she was heavily involved in her community; initiated a not for profit greenhouse society, opened her home to women to learn traditional sewing and fur preparation and is one of the Ayauqtiit (Guidance) members whose sole purpose is to give advice to the two schools. Volunteering continued to be a pastime. Most recently she and two former educators had opened a business to promote the preservation and retention of Inuinnaqtun through language courses, provision of educational and cultural orientation and advice, program and event planning, production of Inuinnaqtun reading material and to support the language programming in the schools.
All of the above changed and stopped quickly for Edna when an illness affected her performance and forced her to relocate to Edmonton where she could access better medical care and services. “I am happy to say that I have learned to live within my new limits and do NOT let my illness control my life,” says Edna.
Currently residing in Edmonton, Edna has been actively involved in a number of Indigenous Advisory Circles as a voice for Inuit. As of late, she joined the Grant MacEwen University Indigenous Advisory Council, the Royal Alberta Museum Indigenous Advisory Council, the Edmonton International Elders & Knowledge Keepers Circle on the project, Indigenous Spaces, the Indigenous Advisory Council for the City of Edmonton and the Indigenous Advisory Council on the project, Towards Home (curbing homelessness).
Previous Survivor Circle Members
Meet the 2017-2019 Survivors Circle
NCTR’s spirit name – bezhig miigwan, meaning “one feather”.
Bezhig miigwan calls upon us to see each Survivor coming to the NCTR as a single eagle feather and to show those Survivors the same respect and attention an eagle feather deserves. It also teaches we are all in this together — we are all one, connected, and it is vital to work together to achieve reconciliation.