By Rita Button
To repudiate the laws such as the Doctrine of Discovery and others that give Europeans the right of sovereignty in North America is a place to start the political process of sharing and respecting all who live here. These principles have been identified in the first Truth and Reconciliation Report in The Beacon. The United Nations’ Calls to Action also comments on actions required by those involved in the media, sports and business. By establishing policies and processes, governments can contribute to Aboriginal People’s being recognized as a vital and equal element in Canadian life.
In media, the Canadian Government could utilize CBC Radio-Canada to “support reconciliation and be properly reflective of the diverse cultures of Canada.” (p. 87) Funding for increased Aboriginal programming and Aboriginal speakers would contribute to increased job opportunities for Aboriginals while air time could be used to communicate the truth of the Residential experience, thereby educating Canadians on the need to understand reconciliation and a pathway to its attainment. As well, television can contribute to connecting the diverse cultures of Canada, in particular, Aboriginals with non-Aboriginal people. Naturally, the Aboriginal experience as a part of Canada’s history should be a part of all journalism schools to help journalists understand the rights of Indigenous Peoples as laid out by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Aboriginal athletic experience as memorialized in sports halls of fame is a part of Canada’s national sports history. Aboriginal athletic growth must continue to be supported in events such as the North American Indigenous Games, including travel for individual athletes and financial help for the games’ hosts. These initiatives will contribute to Aboriginal People’s becoming more aware of the part that physical fitness plays in general health and well-being. As well, athletic team play results in players developing values, responsibilities and appreciation for diverse cultures and backgrounds. The United Nations report insists that national sports policies must include sports programs that welcome diversity while simultaneously including traditional Aboriginal sports. New programs for coaches and sports officials should occur as a way of helping them to understand the Aboriginal ways of knowing and prevent racist attitudes. As well, “host countries and officials of international sporting events such as the Olympics…must ensure that Indigenous peoples’ territorial protocols are respected and that local Indigenous communities are engaged in the planning process.” (p.93)
The UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be applied to corporate policy and “core operational activities involving Indigenous Peoples and their lands and resources” in Canada. (p.94) Corporate people should communicate and consult with Indigenous People, including getting informed consent from them before economic projects are begun. Businesses should also give “Aboriginal Peoples equal access to jobs, training and educational opportunities…so that long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects” can occur. Management and staff should have access to education on the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations report on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous law, as well as Aboriginal-Crown relations.(p.95) Naturally, skill based training in “intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism” (p.95) will be a part of this initiative.
Thus, understanding that leads to reconciliation can occur when United Nations protocols are accepted and initiated, and understood.
All information and quotations originate from the publication Truth and Reconciliation, Calls to Action, from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, 2015