The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report
In the mid-1980s, former students of the residential school system began to organize Survivor groups and associations in an effort to seek justice for the sexual, physical, emotional and cultural abuses they had suffered in residential schools.
As a result of their dedicated and extraordinary efforts, Survivors, both individually and collectively, pressured the federal government to take action on this issue. In 2006, the federal government agreed to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA).
Among other things, the IRSSA required the federal government to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), whose mandate was to explain to Canadians the history of residential schools, their historical and ongoing impact on Indigenous Peoples, and to establish a framework for a process of reconciliation.
The TRC’s findings are crucial to our understanding of the residential school system, but we still have a long way to go before learning the full truth of what happened at these schools.
Recognizing the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Residential schools suppressed Indigenous cultures, languages, spiritualities and ways of living. Canada’s Aboriginal policy forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and communities, and placed them in residential schools. These schools forbade students to speak their language or practice their culture; stripped students of their spiritual beliefs; distanced students from their life on the land; restricted their movements across the land; and prevented the transmission of culture from one generation to the next. As the TRC report states: “Residential schooling was always more than simply an educational program: it was an integral part of a conscious policy of cultural genocide.”
Ultimately, only the words of the Survivors can properly articulate the cases of abuse. It is to their stories, words, wisdom, feelings and perspectives that all Calgarians, as Treaty People, must turn in our quest towards reconciliation.
Reconciliation will not be an easy process. It will take time, effort and dedication. It will require commitment to the cause of justice for Indigenous Peoples and an obligation to human rights.
Reconciliation must take into account directly, and without hesitation, the horrors, violences and injustices of a long history of colonialism, and the continued prevalence of these injustices today. These injustices have played out over several centuries, therefore healing and reconciliation
Educate yourself. Educate others.
Engage in an open and honest conversation over these difficult issues. Connect to the various communities with whom you share this land.
The following resources can help you on this path: