As reported in the University of Manitoba's National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
By Rita Button
To reiterate the main tenet of last month’s Truth and Conciliation report, one of the main tenets of the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the right to live free from discrimination in a diverse society. The UN’s Declaration has been endorsed as the underlying framework from which reconciliation will flow.
The beginning of the pamphlet identifies the principles that must be followed in order for the healing process and true reconciliation to occur. These beliefs, reworded slightly, are as follows:
- Recognize and respect the treaties that identify constitutional and human rights of all Indigenous, self-determining people;
- Require “public truth sharing” (p. 8) in an apology and “redress past harms” to allow healing;
- Address the destructive “legacies of colonialism” (p. 8) that have resulted in negatively impacting all aspects of life, including education, culture, child welfare, justice and prosperity;
- Close the discrepancies between opportunities for “social, health and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians” (p.9);
- Create the culture that “mutually respectful relationships” (p. 9) is the responsibility of all Canadians;
- Respect the knowledge and truths of Aboriginal elders and include it to ensure “long-term reconciliation” (p. 9);
- Integrate “Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols and connections to the land into the process of reconciliation” (p.10);
- Use “political will, trust building, joint leadership, transparency and accountability” (p.10) to create meaningful and lasting reconciliation;
- Ensure “sustained public education and engagement, including youth engagement” regarding the truth about residential schools; and
- Recognize the cultural contributions of Aboriginal people to Canadian society in a public and meaningful way.
Canada must act as well as talk. Reconciliation must become a part of how we act not only with families and friends but also with all relationships Canadians encounter and pursue. This attitude in our daily lives will begin the creation of a society that is respectful and embracing of all of its diverse elements. By following this kinder, respectful way of life, not only will Canadians begin the healing process, but we will also create a society free from racism and rancour. All will gain.
Information and quotations originate from Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg.