Reconciliation as relationship
In its 2012 Interim Report, the TRC recommended that federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and all parties to the Settlement Agreement, undertake to meet and explore the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as a framework for reconciliation in Canada. We remain convinced that the United Nations Declaration provides the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada.
A reconciliation framework is one in which Canada’s political and legal systems, educational and religious institutions, the corporate sector and civic society function in ways that are consistent with the principles set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has endorsed.
To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.
For many Survivors and their families, this commitment is foremost about healing themselves, their communities, and nations, in ways that revitalize individuals as well as Indigenous cultures, languages, spirituality, laws, and governance systems.
For governments, building a respectful relationship involves dismantling a centuries-old political and bureaucratic culture in which, all too often, policies and programs are still based on failed notions of assimilation.
For churches, demonstrating long-term commitment requires atoning for actions within the residential schools, respecting Indigenous spirituality, and supporting Indigenous peoples’ struggles for justice and equity.
Schools must teach history in ways that foster mutual respect, empathy, and engagement.
All Canadian children and youth deserve to know Canada’s honest history, including what happened in the residential schools, and to appreciate the rich history and knowledge of Indigenous nations who continue to make such a strong contribution to Canada, including our very name and collective identity as a country.
For Canadians from all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together.
And so, friends, we have read to the end of the Introduction together – the summary of the summary, as it were. Is there anything that stood out to you? Anything that rang in your heart long after you’d closed the page and walked away, into your day?
Did you note, that this Commission and process was brought into existence, only because of the courage of survivors, making claims against the government? Did you realize that people actually had to sue for this history to be acknowledged? That this is the result of the largest class action lawsuit in the history of Canada? That the federal Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada was created in 2001 because there were so many abuse claims filed by former students against the federal government? Or that The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was created through a legal settlement between Residential Schools Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit representatives and the parties responsible for creation and operation of the schools: the federal government and the church bodies.
The TRC’s mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. The TRC documented the truth of Survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. This included First Nations, Inuit and Métis former residential school students, their families, communities, the churches, former school employees, government officials and other Canadians.
The TRC concluded its mandate in 2015 and transferred its records to the safekeeping of National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).
We’re coming to the end of 2021, and this is still a history that needs to be unearthed and integrated into our larger sense of who we are and what we want the story of this country to be.
Shall we continue?