Why is National Truth and Reconciliation Day not just another stat holiday? | Pro IQRA News

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Unprotected46:20Making the most of National Truth and Reconciliation Day

On September 30, Canada will celebrate the second National Truth and Reconciliation Daya time to remember the children who died while forced to attend church-run and government-funded residential schools, the survivors and returnees, their families, and the communities still affected by the ongoing trauma.

But despite the purpose of the day, there is evidence that this is not clear to all Canadians what exactly the day is for or how it can best be used to promote reconciliation.

“The weight of the day is not really understood or accepted,” said Eva Jewell, a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and director of research at the Yellowhead Institute. Unreserved’s Rosanna Deerchild.

Parliament approved a federal statutory holiday last year – just days after Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirms discovery of 215 potential burial sites Based at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for its creation six years ago. 94 calls to action.

Jewell, who is Anishinaabe from the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, says the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is perhaps still developing an “identity” and that while indigenous peoples should decide how the day is celebrated, it should be broader. , collective conversation.

“I don’t think it’s sustainable for Indigenous peoples to take out our traumas year after year. And I don’t think it’s good for Canadians to just sit back and eat our troubles,” he said.

Person with long, dark hair, neutral face, wearing glasses
Eva Jewell, a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and director of research at the Yellowhead Institute, says “it’s not sustainable for Indigenous peoples to have to relive our trauma year after year.” (Submitted by Eva Jewell)

Persistent inequalities

Jewell believes that today is a time for Canadians to reflect on the foundation of their country, which is “based on indigenous genocide.”

She wants to see Canadians think about the “persistent inequities we still face,” such as high rates of child endangerment, Indigenous poverty and incarceration, and what can be done in response.

“I can see a day when we can really think about what Canada is really doing structurally as a country to alleviate those burdens from Indigenous peoples,” he said.

He suggests there is great power in organizing at the local level and encourages people to lobby their local politicians – municipal, state or federal – and ask them what their plans are to implement the 94 calls for action.

WATCH | He called the Pope’s use of the word “genocide” a late but significant development:

Pope says Canada’s residential school system is genocide

Pope Francis has described Canada’s residential school system and the forced assimilation of indigenous children as genocide. Brock Pitawanakwat, coordinator of the Indigenous Studies program at York University, called the Pope’s comments “late”, but said it was an “important development”.

Small gestures go a long way

“A big part of reconciliation is understanding how small, genuine gestures contribute to larger reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” says Saber Pictou Lee, a Mi’kmaq advocate and researcher at Archipel Research and Consulting.

“Reconciliation means that indigenous communities have access to their land in a way that they can act on their treaty rights,” he said. “This means that non-indigenous people benefit from management measures in safe and clean drinking water and safe and healthy agriculture initiatives.

“It means developing a nation where our partnership is centered and the well-being of the greater community is centered.”

Medium profile shot of long-haired person looking at camera, smiling, wearing beaded earrings.
Local lawyer and researcher Saber Pictou Lee says even the smallest gesture can go a long way toward reconciliation. (Submitted by Saber Pictou Lee)

Shawn Francis of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation in New Brunswick is working to bring the Wolastoqiyik language and culture back to his community. He suggests that Canadians can wear an orange shirt or pin on September 30 to acknowledge what happened to Indigenous children, but not to stop there.

“You put it on for the day to honor the kids. But when you take it off, you still have to understand that you still have that in your heart, to honor the kids who didn’t come home.”

The ‘get over it’ mindset

Ian Thomas, of Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation and director of First Nations and Metis Relations at the Saskatoon Health Authority, says he wants to see Canadians attend the event on Sept. 30, either in person or virtually. sit down with a really open heart and mind to hear the stories of survivors.”

Close-up of smiling man wearing glasses and blue and white shirt.
Ian Thomas, director of First Nations and Métis Relations at Saskatoon Health, urges people who believe Indigenous peoples just have to ‘get over it’ to examine what that ‘it’ really is and where their feelings come from. (Submitted by Ian Thomas)

He says he often hears the old refrain, “get over it,” from non-locals. He encourages people with this mindset to “sit down and think”… “I say, what do they have to go through?” and to really unpack that and where those feelings come from.”

“I think it will really empower people to take a step forward [consider], ‘Well, what can I do as a Canadian as a treaty person on treaty lands? What is my role in this? How can I support this healing?’ “

A smiling teenager with long dark hair wearing a navy blue shirt.
BGC Canada’s Indigenous Youth Leader Kayla Littlepoplar says non-Indigenous Canadians can help heal by listening to Indigenous voices and working to make their communities more inclusive. (BGC Canada)

Kayla Littlepops has some suggestions on how to make this happen. The 17-year-old from Sweetgrass First Nation is the 2022 Indigenous Youth of the Year and is also the first Indigenous Youth Leader at BGC Canada – formerly the Boys and Girls Club. He says non-Indigenous Canadians can be part of the healing by listening to Indigenous voices, offering a helping hand and working to make their communities more inclusive.

“Maybe buy some beadwork from a local vendor, buy some bannock, support local artisans and really take the time to respect local cultures and celebrate local cultures like people should do every day,” Littlepoplar said.

Awareness is the key to reconciliation

The president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada is urging people to attend any of the films, talks and stories the organization has planned for Sept. 30.

A person with short hair, wearing glasses, wearing a blue-black shawl, looking up.
Carol McBride, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, hopes there will be reconciliation at some point. (Lindsey Gibeau)

“If someone comes in and sees what we have to share, I believe they’ll leave with a little more history of our country,” said Carol McBride, an Algonquin leader and elder from the Timiskaming First Nation.

“It will illuminate their knowledge of exactly what happened to the indigenous people of this country. I think knowing this history, I think we will come together and reconcile at some point.”

Lakehead University, where Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux is Canada Chair of Truth and Reconciliation, has given all staff and students a day off on September 30.

Close-up of smiling man with dark, shoulder-length hair, wearing colorful beaded earrings.
Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux of Lakehead University says reconciliation means “a change in the face of Aboriginal Canada for everyone.” (Submitted by Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux)

Instead of “going home and playing video games,” he says, he hopes people will participate in something related to the day.

“We’re asking people to take a moment to pause and learn something about Canada’s history, whether they were born here, whether they moved here, whether they’re Indigenous,” said Wesley-Esquimaux. She is from the Chippewas of the Georgina Island First Nation.

“Reconciliation to me means a change in the face of Aboriginal Canada for everyone.”


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