Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Every story needs a listener

This blog is an invitation to you. Canada is in the midst of a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the Indian Residential Schools system, but many Canadians don’t know this, or may not feel this journey belongs to them. KAIROS feels that we all –Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities alike- need to join this journey. This blog is a space for you to join that conversation through your comments and your reflections on what truth, reconciliation and justice mean to you and your community.

Artwork on truth and reconciliation displayed in Saskatoon at the TRC national event

Artwork on truth and reconciliation displayed in Saskatoon at the TRC national event

Between the 1840’s and the 1970’s, over 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their homes and communities, often forcibly, and sent to boarding schools run by the federal government and f four Canadian churches. As stated in the federal government’s official apology for the Indian Residential Schools system in 2008, the schools aimed “to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures and to assimilate them into the dominant culture.”    Or, as one government representative infamously said, the objective of the schools was to “kill the Indian in the child”. The effects were devastating and continue today.

In 2008, along with the official apology, the federal government  set up a healing foundation and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) whose work is now under way. The government  apology echoed earlier  ones from some of the churches and religious communities that ran the schools.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not only open to all Canadians of all backgrounds, it needs all Canadians to participate in order to make it possible to heal this broken relationship. Residential schools are not ancient  history. Their impact continues to be felt  in today’s society and this truth  needs to be heard. The schools were  also part of a much bigger project of colonization and assimilation that carries on today. The stories you hear and read will be difficult, but they are also profoundly courageous and hopeful. Educating oneself and one’s community about this  history and the ongoing impact of residential schools is a key part of the healing process.

By being present at the hearings and educational events, you ensure that the stories have a witness—and you open yourself to helping to heal a broken relationship. This isn’t about putting people through a guilt trip, or about a failure to “get over it”; the TRC is one step in a shared road to healing.

This blog is a place for reflections, analysis and action. We’ll post everything from mainstream media links to personal reflections about being a survivor or attending a hearing. We want to hear from you!

Reconciliation first needs truth, and we urge you to listen and contribute to that truth with an open heart.

KAIROS is supporting the work of the TRC and the wider work of truth, reconciliation and equity through its education for action campaign. If you’d like to host a workshop on Indigenous rights, or get involved with this work in any way let us know.


Filed in: Indigenous Rights


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