Today is Slice of Life Tuesday – the writing challenge hosted at “Two Writing Teachers” – that encourages us to share a slice of our life each week.
This was an important day for Canada, a chance for Canadians to forge a new, just path with aboriginal people.
Since spending three years teaching in Canada’s Arctic, I have been drawn to aboriginal art, culture and stories. My oldes son was born in the north and is Metis.
For 150 years, native children were taken from their homes and families and sent to residential schools throughout Canada. The goal was assimilation and as Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin called it last week – “cultural genocide”.
Over 150,00 native children went through the residential schools and over 6,00 died, many who were never even named. These children faced physical, emotional and sexual abuse and were forced to abandon families, culture, and language.
These residential survivors won a settlement from the government in 2005 and then used much of this money to set up the TRCommission. Yes, the government apologized in 2008 bu little action has been taken by this administration to address the wrongs and improve the lives of aboriginal peoples in Canada. As someone said – it is an empty, meaningless apology without action. There is still a huge gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada – especially in education and healthcare. Shameful.
The Commission spent over six years to hold seven national events, hearings, collect statements (over 6,000!) and then write this report. The report makes 945 recommendations. It is an important document, one that Canadians need to embrace, to ensure the rights of First Nations are finally fulfilled, and quality of life improved. Transformative change is sought.
Reconciliation means to remember and change. And Canadians are asked to “open their eyes, arms and hearts” and get rid of racist attitudes. An historic day – one that will determine whether Canada can truly move forward in welcoming all who live here.