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The Opportunity for Truth & Reconciliation

Creating the Futures We Want

Key links in this article:Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report
• CBC NEWS – Truth and Reconciliation offers 94 'calls to action'
• [Product] ABCD in Action
• [Resource] Circles of Friends/Support

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report with 94 Recommendations is 5 years old this week.   It was received with great acclaim, and governments, organizations and individuals announced much too glibly that they would ‘implement’ all the recommendations almost immediately.    

There has been some progress, but 500 years of colonial oppression does not evaporate quickly.  As Justice Sinclair predicted, it will take generations.  But unless there is relentless vigilance and action, nothing will happen.  TRC must not join dozens of other dusty reports – piled on bookshelves – brilliant recommendations, ignored and forgotten. 

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Graphic by Kirk Hinkleman

The most current crisis – the global pandemic – reveals that we are once again missing an opportunity to make up for lost time.

One of the relentless excuses (delayed for decades) has been ‘there is no money’ – no budget.  But in the face of the pandemic, we are creating dozens of funding mechanisms (as we should).  Thus, ‘no money’ is stripped bare back to a harder truth: ‘we don’t want to’.  In the pandemic, some money has been identified for indigenous issues (with all too familiar strings).   

However, simultaneously, and in brutal contradiction, repression continues.  Communities continue to have boiled water advisories decades long, inhuman housing conditions, and lack of reasonable access to health and education.   Canada has ‘normalized inequality’ of indigenous children.  

These inequities are an age-old pandemic – and could be remedied as we create emergency measures for all Canadians.  However, even today, the government continues to find legal loopholes to block payments to indigenous children – after the Tribunal has ordered the government to pay, (and the courts have issued nine non-compliance orders for not paying).  This is not the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation.

Similarly, the Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Commission report and Calls for Justice – may be quietly buried under the cover of the pandemic crisis.  This is another pandemic – and it is time to act – not ignore.

The Covid 19 disruption highlights the injustice and inequity in our systems, and creates an opportunity to abandon oppressive policies and practices and to invest in better futures for all.  We have ignored the warnings about the impending crisis of long-term care for our elders.  Now they are dying – often in misery.  The Military are sent to the rescue and have detailed the grim distress of elders and workers.   We knew before but ‘it wasn’t a priority’.  This time we must act.  In parallel, we have known about the injustices in many outlying and indigenous communities for years.  There is no excuse for delay this time.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission laid out a brilliant action plan to build a better future together.  Let’s not miss this opportunity.

The current explosions of frustration reacting to police violence are graphic reminders that the deep wounds of our history will not evaporate.  They must be healed.  We must listen to each other – and learn. We must reaffirm our moral compass and reimagine the society we want to live in.

The healing requires policy – but much more important it begins with each of us at home, in our families and our communities.  We must act.  The wisdom of ‘Asset Based Community Development’ has never been more current.  This approach focuses us on capacities – not deficits – and reveals how we can begin wherever we are.  In the spirit of responding to the encrusted history of colonial oppression, and to the current crisis, we are making the content of our ABCD in Action Video available free on line.  Please use it to seed your personal action plan.

The healing requires explicit anti-racist policies and practices. And it begins with each of us in our families and as citizens in our communities.  We must act.  The wisdom of ‘Asset Based Community Development’ has never been more current.  This approach focuses us on capacities – not deficits – and reveals how we can begin wherever we are.  In the spirit of responding to the encrusted history of colonial oppression, and to the current crisis, we are making the content of our ABCD in Action Video available free on-line.  Please use it to seed your personal and collective action plan.

And because we believe you should do nothing alone, and because we are physically separated by this pandemic, we also offer the resource of Circles of Friends/Support in the hopes that you will use this time to renew and sustain relationships – even virtually.  

Further learning

Justice Murray Sinclair
Chair Truth and Reconciliation Commission


two-minute audio clip (2015)

Justice Murray Sinclair presenting the TRC Report and Calls to Action:

we must light a fire in ourselves.

As It Happens   
‘Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem, it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.

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