Wednesday June 2, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
Six years ago today, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) announced the release of 94 Calls to Action informed by thousands of statements from survivors of residential school. Witnesses delivered testimony on behalf of those who could not speak.
This week, we again confronted as a country the uncomfortable truth of the residential school experience as we learned of the national tragedy of 215 children buried in unmarked mass graves outside the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia.
Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and their communities. Across Inuit Nunangat and Canada Inuit mourn anew with First Nations and Metis as this atrocity comes to light in stark detail.
The news has opened wounds for many Inuit. Grief is a natural response. So is anger. The truth should affect us. It should change us. It should change Canada as we know it. Inuit and all Indigenous peoples live this truth every day. We continue to walk the path towards reconciliation but it is a difficult road.
We are making incremental progress in this work.
Nunatsiavut Inuit were not part of the settlement agreement upon which the TRC was founded, or the apology to survivors delivered 13 years ago this month. They shared the same experiences as survivors across the country yet fought harder and longer for redress. In 2017, they received a measure of recognition for their pain when the Prime Minister delivered an apology to Nunatsiavut survivors.
Inuit continue to pursue reconciliation measures as a priority area within the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee. We seek to advance beyond the colonial and racist policies of the Government of Canada that have devastated our people, and we hope to inspire and promote greater learning among all Canadians.
We grow ever closer to achieving TRC Call to Action 43 – fully adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bill C-15 is currently working its way through the Senate.
Also this week, we will reach a major milestone under Call to Action 41 – a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) with the release of a National Action Plan to implement the 231 MMIWG Calls to Justice, including 46 Inuit-specific Calls to Justice.
The TRC Calls to Action and the MMIWG National Inquiry Calls for Justice are rooted in the lived experience and voice of survivors, victims and their families, and their full implementation is necessary to rebuilding trust, upholding human rights, and furthering reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
We are not there yet. We are still rebuilding relationships that will help us move forward through partnership and mutual respect. We are still demanding action. All Canadians must demand action as well.
Help is available when you need it
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 (24/7)
Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310 (24/7) – Inuktitut available