The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada will be September 30. A schedule of events can be found here.
With the attention on the deaths of children in the native residential schools in the land called the United States, we are learning more about these atrocities here. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, has initiated an investigation of the institutions of forced assimilation in the U.S.
Canada went through an eight-year process to learn what happened in the residential schools there, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). Quakers of the Canadian Yearly Meeting have been very involved in that process and ongoing work for reconciliation.
In 2007 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was established “to learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools and to inform all Canadians about what happened in the schools.”
In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its Final Report and 94 Calls to Action. TRC Chief Commissioner Murray Sinclair said, “We have described for you a mountain, we have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.”
In 2011, Canadian Yearly Meeting, the national body of Canadian Quakers, had called on Quakers to actively engage in reconciliation efforts:
We are being invited by the Indigenous peoples of Canada as represented by the Indian Residential School Survivors, through the Indian Residential School Survivors Settlement Agreement, to enter a journey of truth finding and reconciliation. We encourage all Friends, in their Meetings for Worship and Monthly and Regional Meetings, boldly to accept this invitation and to engage locally, regionally, and nationally, actively seeking ways to open ourselves to this process…”Truth and Reconciliation, Canadian Friends Yearly Meeting.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences.
About the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, began to be implemented in 2007. One of the elements of the agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians.
The official mandate (PDF) of the TRC is found in Schedule “N” of the Settlement Agreement which includes the principles that guided the commission in its important work.
Between 2007 and 2015, the Government of Canada provided about $72 million to support the TRC’s work. The TRC spent 6 years travelling to all parts of Canada and heard from more than 6,500 witnesses. The TRC also hosted 7 national events across Canada to engage the Canadian public, educate people about the history and legacy of the residential schools system, and share and honour the experiences of former students and their families.
The TRC created a historical record of the residential schools system. As part of this process, the Government of Canada provided over 5 million records to the TRC. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba now houses all of the documents collected by the TRC.
In June 2015, the TRC held its closing event in Ottawa and presented the executive summary of the findings contained in its multi-volume final report, including 94 “calls to action” (or recommendations) to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
In December 2015, the TRC released its entire 6-volume final report. All Canadians are encouraged to read the summary or the final report to learn more about the terrible history of Indian Residential Schools and its sad legacy.
To read the reports, please visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website.
What does reconciliation mean to Collin?
Many settlers wish they could ask Indigenous people questions about reconciliation without appearing foolish or rude. Canadian Friends Service Committee knows that not every settler has the opportunity to have open dialogue with Indigenous friends and neighbours. This is why we want to give you a chance to hear the answers to some important questions from some of our Indigenous partners, people that we work closely with and trust to give us honest responses, and who trust us enough to engage with this project!
Collin Orchyk is from Treaty 1, Peguis First Nation, Manitoba. Collin is a student in the Indigenous education program at the University of British Columbia and a former Youth Reconciliation Leader for Canadian Roots Exchange. He is also a singer/songwriter and has provided all background music for the videos in the Indigenous Voices on Reconciliation Series. Learn more at quakerservice.ca/reconciliation
More Indigenous voices on reconciliation
Quaker Paula Palmer and Friends Peace Teams have done years of work related to Right Relationship with Native Americans.
A young Tohono Oʼodham man said in one of our workshops, “No one here today made these things happen, but we are the ones who are living now. And we’re all in this together.” And I think that’s what we need to hear. No one here today made all of these things happen, but we are the ones who are living now. So what are our opportunities to work with indigenous peoples, to engage them, to ask them, “What would right relationship look like?” Paula Palmer