Corporal Carol Clark of the RCMP and Aaron Dickson of the OPP presented a history and overview of the causes and effects of the Residential Schools program.  Carol said that, until about 20 years ago there was an institutionalized and mandated program, established by the Baggott Commission, to 'civilize' the native populations -to turn them into Europeans - by placing then in schools away from their roots and forcing them to learn a new way.  The effect of taking children from the only places they've known and dropping them into these large structures, often placed on open spaces so runaways could easily be seen, without contact with their families, their language or their culture was incalculable. 
At the time common wisdom dictated such a course of action.  In the States it was kill or civilize and a misunderstanding of Darwin and the phrase 'survival of the fittest' led colonizers to think that natives would probably be gone in 75 years.  So, an Act to 'Manage' all aspects of native life was passed.  It defined who was or wasn't an 'Indian'.  A woman lost the claim to status if she married outside but a man became an aboriginal.  Considering how natives had helped the newcomers to survive and adapt to their new land, this response, once the colonizers were in the majority, was ill considered.  Reserves, control of cultural activities, an enforcement of Christianity, a pass system in place after the Riel Rebellion, a supervision of all travel and trade by a local agent, a replacing of the matriarchal system by an unfamiliar electoral one and on and on - complete disruption and dislocation.
Schools taught curricula defined by the government, land was owned by the government so no one could obtain a mortgage, their legal rights were not recognized by the courts and they couldn't vote federally till the 1960's.  The total space provided to all the reserves was less than the size of Vancouver Island, less than the total dedicated to National Parks.
The schools - well - porridge twice a day while the children grew produce that was sold; Fort Francis had an electric chair for punishment; as many as 69% of students died and were buried in unmarked cemeteries; tuberculosis was rampant in the crowded and unhealthy spaces and patients were sent to sanatoria and put in tents; physical comfort was denied, physical abuse was common; parents who refused to release their children were arrested; teachers were unqualified, sometimes even illiterate themselves; mass tonsillectomies and sterilizations were carried out without permission or even explanation; and they were driven to activity all day.  They even had special, tiny, handcuffs.
Duncan Scott used the phrase "a final solution" and despite the evidence of abuse and even with public awareness, no changes were made.  The children who survived were gone for over a decade and returned home not knowing their families, their communities, their culture or their language and turned, in confusion and despair, to drink.  When they had children of their own, they had no idea how do deal with them - they had no parenting skills and no connection so the impact continues down the generations.
ID numbers replaced names, hair that had a symbolism for men was shorn, insufficient clothing was provided, solitary confinement was common.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission says 3,000 died but Carol thinks it was more like 50,000.  There is no real number.  Those that died at the schools were buried in mass graves without records kept or families notified and those that died later, at home, would not have been recognized as victims.  It required Court orders to get information released.
Once released they had no grounding and the rates of native incarceration climbed in step with the release rates from the schools.  PTSD is common, suicide rates are higher than the national average, especially among the young teenagers.  Many were adopted out to white families in North America and even in Europe and they are lost completely.
Apologies have been forthcoming - the Churches and in 2008 the federal government apologized which was an emotional and validating experience for survivors.  But is that enough?  Each individual needs healing, role models and a rebirth of pride in traditions and culture.  Phil Fontaine has opened some discussions and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is validating the history of it all but it is a black hole in our history.  Payments have been made but money alone will not cure.  Carol says we can't ignore all this but neither can we be prisoners of the past.  Recognition of the problem, a restoration of respect and responsibility and an awareness on all our parts of the facts is required.