Can we turn towards reconciliation?

I sat in my car in the driveway for a long time after I got home, listening to this conversation between Murray Sinclair and Rosanna Deerchild. The tenderness between them and the gravity and wisdom of Murray’s words, were magnetizing. I’m loading it onto my phone now, and next time I go for a walk in the woods, I’ll listen again, to this, instead of a podcast.

“I did say … at the end of the TRC report that we will not achieve reconciliation in my lifetime. We will probably not achieve it in the lifetime of my children. We may not even achieve it in the lifetime of my grandchildren,” Sinclair, a former senator and chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), told Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild.

“But if we make a concerted effort … then eventually we will be able, some day, to wake up and, to our surprise, find that we are treating each other in a way that was intended when contact was first made.”

The TRC, which released 94 calls to action in 2015, found that 4,100 named and unnamed students died in residential schools across Canada. Sinclair estimates the true number may be closer to 25,000 students.

The most important goal of the TRC, he said, wasn’t just uncovering what happened at residential schools, but “to make it part of our national memory,” so that it cannot be forgotten.

“That’s why legislating it, I think, was important, because it forces you to acknowledge that this day, something happened,” he said.

Sinclair talks to Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild. (Kim Kaschor/CBC)

“We have not only opened people’s eyes, but we have turned people’s heads,” he said. “The ones who would look away now can no longer look away.”


Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and those who are triggered by these reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

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