Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Next Step in Truth and Reconciliation

Author, Omar El Akkad, gets it right when he asserts that the "privilege of temporary outrage" is a root problem in the world today. In an interview about his book, What a Strange Paradise, El Akkad describes his personal awakening to this moral failure by many advantaged members of society to sustain the care needed for those who suffer disproportionately. When speaking about a ship filled with migrants that sunk in the Mediterranean Sea on its way to Europe, he is quoted as saying, "Almost within 24 hours, all the outrage subsided and everybody moved on and everyone stopped caring." (Eric Volmers, "Dueling Fantasies: novel uses a fable-like construct to dismantle false narratives about different cultures", Ottawa Citizen, July 24, 2021.) In my own Ph.D. thesis, I wrote about the moral paralysis that many feel when faced with the past and present impacts of the historical violence and harm that European settlers inflicted upon Indigenous peoples in Canada. We cannot fall again into the privilege of temporary outrage or shrink in moral paralysis. But, we often do not know what to do with the new information of historical truths we now possess, so we tend to tuck it in the back of our minds and resettle into our comfort zones. 

Our Challenge as Settler Peoples

In the face of the tragic findings of the unmarked graves of Indigenous children who attended residential schools in Canada, most are absolutely horrified at the realities suffered by Indigenous children at the hands of government and Church authorities. Finally, something has pushed Canadians to listen and to become familiar with the 94 Calls in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. The big challenge now is to keep going, not slip into the privilege of temporary outrage or moral paralysis. Our responsibility is to keep taking a next step on our life-long journey of learning more about the historical truths that created our country and to which we were previously blinded. Truth is imperative before we can even think about reconciliation. 

A Next Step

At the suggestion of many Indigenous peoples in Canada, a next step for Settler Canadians is to learn about Indigenous perspectives. One way to start is to read literature written by Indigenous authors, or watch an educational video or movie. It is summertime in Canada, often a good time to spend time in these activities. Below are some recommendations, based on my own favourite authors. 

  • Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse (2012), also on Netflix
  • Richard Wagamese, Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations (2013)
  • Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America     (2012)
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the    Teachings of Plants (2015) or watch her teach about The Honorable Harvest on YouTube, (3:31    minutes).
  • Michelle Good, Five Little Indians (2020)
You are invited to come back to this blog after the summer months in the northern hemisphere to continue the journey together from truth to reconciliation. The next problem we will awaken ourselves to is that of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada. 








Monday, July 26, 2021

Newcomers to Canada - TRC Calls to Action 93-94

                                                    A History of Treaty-Making in Canada

To understand ourselves as treaty people is foreign to the self-identity of most Canadians who live in treaty territories. But, the truth is that that is what many of us are - treaty people. Those Canadians who do not live in treaty territories are living on unceded Indigenous land. 

One example of an initiative to educate newcomers to the treaty reality in Canada takes place in Calgary, Indigenous Education for Newcomers.

Newcomers to Canada

93. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.

94. We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Business and Reconciliation - TRC Call to Action 92

                                                       
                                               Discover and support Indigenous Innovation 

Business and Reconciliation

92. We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.

iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sports and Reconciliation - TRC Calls to Action 87-91

The Federal Government set aside funding for Indigenous athletes, physical activity and programs during the first years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However, has this commitment has been sustained?

Sports and Reconciliation

87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

88. We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.

89. We call upon the federal government to amend the Physical Activity and Sport Act to support reconciliation by ensuring that policies to promote physical activity as a fundamental element of health and well-being, reduce barriers to sports participation, increase the pursuit of excellence in sport, and build capacity in the Canadian sport system, are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.

90. We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to, establishing:

i. In collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, stable funding for, and access to, community sports programs that reflect the diverse cultures and traditional sporting activities of Aboriginal peoples.

ii. An elite athlete development program for Aboriginal athletes.

iii. Programs for coaches, trainers, and sports officials that are culturally relevant for Aboriginal peoples.

iv. Anti-racism awareness and training programs.

91. We call upon the officials and host countries of international sporting events such as the Olympics, Pan Am, and Commonwealth games to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ territorial protocols are respected, and local Indigenous communities are engaged in all aspects of planning and participating in such events.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Media and Reconciliation - TRC Calls to Action 84-86


Media and Reconciliation

The website at the link above is an archived website and a little outdated, but there are some good articles, resources and links. 

84. We call upon the federal government to restore and increase funding to the CBC/Radio-Canada, to enable Canada’s national public broadcaster to support reconciliation, and be properly reflective of the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to:

i. Increasing Aboriginal programming, including Aboriginal-language speakers.

ii. Increasing equitable access for Aboriginal peoples to jobs, leadership positions, and professional development opportunities within the organization.

iii. Continuing to provide dedicated news coverage and online public information resources on issues of concern to Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians, including the history and legacy of residential schools and the reconciliation process.

85. We call upon the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, as an independent non-profit broadcaster with programming by, for, and about Aboriginal peoples, to support reconciliation, including but not limited to:

i. Continuing to provide leadership in programming and organizational culture that reflects the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples.

ii. Continuing to develop media initiatives that inform and educate the Canadian public, and connect Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

86. We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal– Crown relations.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Commemoration - TRC Calls to Action 79-83

Telling More Than One Side

Click on the link above to have a listen to what its like to understand historical truth from more than one perspective. 

Commemoration

79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:

 i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and M├ętis         representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.

ii. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.

iii. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

81. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools National Monument in the city of Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

82. We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

83. We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation - TRC Calls to Action 77-78





National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

77. We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

78. We call upon the Government of Canada to commit to making a funding contribution of $10 million over seven years to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, plus an additional amount to assist communities to research and produce histories of their own residential school experience and their involvement in truth, healing, and reconciliation.