“I thought I was going for a car ride.”
He paused for a moment, first looking out at us the audience, then looking down with a broken smile and a small chuckle. Though this was no laughing matter. The phrase hung in the room even as he continued his story.
You see, Isadore Charters (“Yenmo”) was six years old when he was taken from the love and safety of his home and family. While lured by the promise of adventure, he was given the reality of years of abuse, loneliness and deculturalization in one of Canada’s residential schools.
Isadore recently shared his story as a residential school survivor at a special chapel at Columbia Bible College highlighting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission happening this week in Vancouver (Sep. 17-22). His story is one of heartbreak, struggle, and addiction, yet filled with hope and honesty as he’s found healing in faith and artistic expression. Charters’ story is not one of overcoming past abuse - it’s never that simple - but of honestly relating a personal and social struggle towards influencing change today. Inspiring doesn’t say enough.
Charters’ story is one of thousands across Canada. Stories of abuse and brokenness. Stories of oppression and coercion. Stories that continue to send a shudder through Canadian history. The truth of the stories need to be told. And the truth needs to be heard. Truth cannot be overcome - we cannot erase this awful past - but it can bring healing and forgiveness. Hopefully this week reveals how even the darkest truths - spoken and heard - can reveal the path to reconciliation.