TRC Commissioners: On 5th anniversary, not enough progress has been made

TRC Commissioners (l-r) Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Willie Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson take part in the TRC's Final Event Official Opening on March 27-30, 2014 in Edmonton

by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners say the federal government hasn’t done enough to implement their report’s recommendations, five years after its release.

In a statement published on December 15, 2020 and written by Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners Sen. Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson, it is said that, “Five years ago today, we stood together with residential school Survivors to present the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Canadians from all walks of life embraced the Calls to Action with a sense of urgency, purpose, and unity.”

“Today, we are concerned by the slow and uneven pace of implementation of the Calls to Action.”

“We have reconvened for the first time in five years because we feel strongly that this sense of urgency, purpose and unity must be renewed.”

The TRC was created by the court order to investigate the historical impacts of Residential schools. The process took six years to complete and statements from almost 7000 residential school survivors, their families, and others who were affected by the Residential School system were taken and documented. These Survivors described not only the hardships and abuses they had endured, but also the lasting harm caused to their families, languages, cultures and communities and cultures.

“All Survivors and their families deserve truth, justice and healing. Many of these Survivors are no longer with us, however,” reads the TRC’s statement. “With sadness, we acknowledge that three of the ten members of our TRC Survivors Advisory Committee have now passed away.”

“They and thousands of others who have also passed since our reporting, contributed so much to our national understanding. They deserved to see real and meaningful progress in their lifetimes.”

Even though change may be coming in the Federal Government’s possible new Bill C-15, which would see Canadian law change to better fit with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the TRC says that the slow progress in concerning.

While they welcome recently tabled federal legislation to implement the Declaration, they note that passage of the bill remains uncertain and that some provinces have called for further delay.

Six provinces have asked the federal government to delay the bill.

“Beyond positive efforts, we also see worrying signs, such as the political roll back of progress made in public school curricula in Alberta and Ontario,” reads the TRC statement.

“This is not only a barrier to reconciliation – it is also an attack on the truth.”

Commissioner Wilton Littlechild said, “I am most disheartened that Alberta, the province that had the highest number of residential schools in Canada, is leading these attempts at delays.”

The TRC statement ends with, “This is not an anniversary for celebration, but one for national honesty, and urgent and meaningful action.”

Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News. 

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