Indian people

“Why don’t people like us Indians? »Questions remain as the TRC ends


The Winnipeg Truth and Reconciliation events began Tuesday with a prayer and a question: “I wonder why people don’t like us Indians?

Elder Margaret Lavalee, who opened events with a prayer on the University of Winnipeg lawn, said she spoke with other Elders before Tuesday, to prepare for what she would say .

She spoke of her recent return to her hometown of Sagkeeng First Nation for the funeral of a residential school survivor, who was 88 years old.

“One of the elders I was talking to shared mindh me, ‘I wonder why people don’t like us Indians. Why is there still so much racism in our province? In our country. And why do we have to be reconciled? And with who? The government ? She said.

This elder to whom she spoke also asked if it was really the responsibility of the First Nations to come to terms with the government.

“’We didn’t do anything. We were nice people,” Lavalee said, quoting the elder. “We welcomed visitors. We welcomed the newcomers and looked after the newcomers, we Indians here in Manitoba and across Canada. So what have we done wrong, why don’t people like us? “”

“So those questions are still there,” Lavalee said.

Marcel French, whose mother was a residential school survivor, handed out tobacco pouches ahead of Lavalee’s prayer on Tuesday.

He praised the work of the TRC and said his mother would be proud, but expressed concern that it might end up being forgotten like so many other government reports.

“Hope that doesn’t stay on a shelf and we kind of push it back and let it sit there. Hope we get on with the work, there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

As six years of TRC hearings come to a close today in Ottawa, related events are happening across the country, including Winnipeg.


Main recommendations of the final report

Below are summaries of some of the policy recommendations made in the report. Read the full report on the TRC website.

  • HEALTH: A recognition that the current state of Indigenous health is a direct result of previous government policies and the implementation of Indigenous health care rights.
  • EDUCATION: The creation and funding of new Indigenous education legislation that protects languages ​​and cultures and bridges the education gap for Indigenous people.
  • JUSTICE: A commitment to eliminate the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody and in conflict with the law, as well as the collection and publication of data on the criminal victimization of Indigenous people.
  • PUBLIC INQUIRY: The creation of a public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
  • ACTION: The creation of a National Council for Reconciliation, which would monitor and report on reconciliation progress, as well as the introduction of an annual report on the state of indigenous peoples presented by the Prime Minister.
  • LANGUAGE: The government is asked to implement an indigenous languages ​​law and appoint a languages ​​commissioner to preserve and promote it.
  • FUNDING: The report calls for $ 10 million over seven years from the federal government for the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.
  • COMMEMORATION: The creation of a statutory holiday to honor survivors, their families and communities – and to ensure “public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains an essential part of the reconciliation process.”
  • MEMORIALS: The report calls for funding for memorials, community events and museums, including a museum reconciliation commemoration program, which will be launched in time for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

The recommendations included in Tuesday’s report are not binding – the government does not have to act, but the commission is pushing for implementation of its recommendations and urging Canadians to do the same.

“Reconciliation is going to take hard work. People from all walks of life and at all levels of society will have to engage voluntarily,” the report said in its closing notes, where the authors thank the survivors who “tearfully and angrily shared their pain. “

Winnipeg TRC Events for Tuesday

8:30 a.m. Opening ceremony on the front lawn followed by remarks by Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman

10:00 a.m. Live broadcast of TRC findings from Ottawa to Riddell Hall begins

12 p.m. A walk for reconciliation begins on the front lawn

  • Winnipeg Public Libraries

The live broadcast of the report’s publication takes place at the Millennium Library at 251 Donald Street, at the Pembina Trail Library at 2724 Pembina Highway, at the Sir William Stephenson Library at 765 Blvd. Keewatin. and the West End Library at 999 Sargent Ave. All rooms open at 9:30 a.m.

1 p.m. A feast and pipe ceremony at Thunderbird House at 715 Main Street after the U of W.

Key dates

During its tenure, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission organized a series of national events in Winnipeg, Inuvik, Halifax, Saskatoon, Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver.

The commission’s mandate was originally scheduled to end in 2014 with a final event in Ottawa. However, it was extended until 2015 because a large number of cases related to the Indian residential school system were turned over to the commission after the federal government was ordered to do so by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. in January 2013.

Final report

Students at Bishop Horden Residential School in Moose Factory, Ontario. circa 1955. The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Canada’s residential school system is due Tuesday morning. (Archives of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada / Archives of the University of Algoma)

The TRC’s final report, released Tuesday at 10 a.m. CST, is part of the commission’s final event this week in Ottawa.

The commission spent six years compiling over 7,000 interviews on Canada’s residential school system.

More than 150,000 indigenous children have attended school and many have reported cases of abuse.

“It’s imperative for us as survivors to talk about our time in residential schools, and I’m not doing it from a blame perspective. It’s for the love of my children, ”said Mary Courchene, a residential school survivor.

Courchene was taken from her home when she was just a five-year-old girl and placed in the residential school system for 10 years. She was not allowed to see her parents during the school year, although they lived next door to the school.

“I’m still going through it every day of my life. A trigger is going to happen and I’m coming back to that feeling,” she said.

“Cultural genocide”

Last week, Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said Canada had attempted “cultural genocide” against indigenous peoples.

Judge Murray Sinclair, chairman of the commission, said he agreed with this characterization.

University of Manitoba sociologist Andrew Woolford said there was a risk of focusing too much on this debate.

“People might be locked into the debate over the use of the word rather than processing and confronting the stories and the story the TRC wants to tell,” Woolford said.

He said he hoped people would pay attention to the report’s broader recommendations instead.

“Rather than getting locked into a discussion of genocide and its definition, people will listen to the survivors, listen to what they have to say and try to understand how they experienced it as a destroyer,” said Woolford.



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