By Rita Button
To understand and respect Indigenous ways of seeing the world, it is, first of all, important to know their history, cultural values, and religious beliefs. To this end, the Calls for Action in the University of Manitoba’s Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action (2015) calls on federal, provincial and territorial governments to work with survivors, Aboriginal peoples and educators to integrate Aboriginal history, especially that related to the residential schools with age appropriate K – 12 curriculum. To this end, it is necessary to train educators as well as to prepare the curriculum. Hence, funding is necessary, not only to develop programs and to train people, but also to assess the programs to ensure that integration occurs in respectful and inclusive ways.
In order to ensure the accuracy of the residential school history, Truth and Reconciliation calls on Library and Archives Canada to make these records available to the public and to review the level of compliance with the UN’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Reporting the truth of and the reasons for the “human rights violations committed against them in residential schools” (p74) will contribute to understanding and reconciliation.
The integration of Aboriginal ways of knowing with the history of residential schools must be used as a part of courses on comparative religious studies, which include Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices which governments will fund as an ongoing process of reconciliation. As well, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and partners which include Aboriginal peoples, “establish(ing) a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation” (p.72) would ensure the growth of understanding. To this end, multi-year funding that establishes programs on reconciliation in community-based youth organizations would become a national initiative enhancing the process and contributing to progress. Using youth groups as the focal point in communities adds to the vitality, visibility and viability of the far-reaching effects of reconciliation. Empathy would become a necessary part of the ways in which people might understand the reason for and the nature of reconciliation.
All information and quotations are taken from Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, University of Manitoba, 2015