A 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation

On the sixth anniversary of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s six-volume Final Report, the Yellowhead Institute just released a Special Report asking, how things are going, you know, on the reconciliation front, and specifically with the  94 Calls to Action, meant to remedy the ongoing structural legacy of Canada’s Residential Schools and to advance reconciliation in Canada.

I think you can probably guess?

Here’s the guts of it:

With each passing year, Canada opts to perform reconciliation in an effort to shape a benevolent reputation rather than enact the substantial and structural changes that would rectify ongoing harms and change the course of our collective relationship.

This is the third year that the Yellowhead Institute has been formally tracking the completion of the Calls to Action.

While there was the rapid adoption and implementation of three Calls to Action this year—a rarity—a survey in the general Canada-Indigenous relationship also reveals some low points.

Amidst a global pandemic, and despite promises to the contrary, clean drinking water is still not guaranteed for many First Nations communities. This is a scourge that is, in part, the outcome of generations of chronically underfunded infrastructure. The re-elected Liberal government continues to battle St. Anne’s Residential School survivors in court and to appeal Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders to compensate First Nations children who have been racially discriminated against by the federal government. Industry continues to violate Wet’suwet’en law, forcing the construction of natural gas infrastructure through their pristine lands and waters without the consent of hereditary chiefs. And, finally, as the country reeled from the discovery of hundreds of graves of children outside former Indian Residential Schools, the Prime Minister went on vacation on a day that his own government set aside to honour residential school survivors. As one survivor put it, “His words don’t match his actions.” We find this to be an apt description of Canada’s engagement with the TRC’s Calls to Action.

The survivors of the residential school systems have already, through the Truth and Reconciliation process, offered us the roadmap for reconciliation, and it’s in the 94 Calls to Action. Maybe we should get on it?

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