Truth and Reconciliation Commission honoured with Calgary Peace Prize
Recipient Marie Wilson optimistic about future, wants Indigenous people involved in new Alberta curriculum
Three individuals who led the charge in learning and documenting the truth about Canada's residential schools will be honoured with the 2016 Calgary Peace Prize Thursday night.
Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Marie Wilson, the three members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will share the award.
"It means so much to me because I know we are receiving it on behalf of the some 70,000 to 80,000 residential school survivors who are still alive in Canada, and who have been at the heart of our work over the last six and a half years," said Wilson, who will accept the award on behalf of all recipients at the Bella Concert Hall.
'What if that was my child?'
Wilson said hearing the first-hand stories of injustice and harm experienced by Aboriginal children was an emotionally and spiritually gruelling experience.
"Any human being would say, 'What if that was my child? What if that happened to me?' It makes it so personal and so acutely horrible."
But she also expressed hope regarding the 94 calls to action that emerged from the commission's work.
She commended Justin Trudeau for his swift launch of a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, and she was pleased that one chapter of the entire federal budget was dedicated to creating "A Better Future for Indigenous Peoples."
High hopes for new curriculum
Wilson stressed the critical role education can and should play in furthering reconciliation, especially in light of residential school history.
"Harm happened in the context of schools under the banner of education," she said.
She wants to see Alberta make good on its commitment to develop a new curriculum that will include First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives, and she wants Indigenous people to be involved in that process.
"We've all been in a way victim to the distortions of how we've told our history to ourselves," she said.
"We have to start getting to know each other in a real way."
The Calgary Peace Prize is presented by The Peace Studies Initiative, Faculty of Arts at Mount Royal University and recognizes outstanding individuals from the global community, who work toward making the world a more just, safer and less violent place.
With files from The Homestretch