Manitoba

Three TRC recommendations done in Manitoba, more promised

Manitoba has taken action on three of 34 recommendations made in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report that pertain directly to the government of Manitoba, according to provincial officials.

It will 'take some time' to respond to the majority of the report recommendations, province says

Hundreds march through downtown Winnipeg to call for action after the Truth and Reconciliation Commision report is released Tuesday. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Manitoba has taken action on three of 34 recommendations made in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report that pertain directly to the government of Manitoba, according to provincial officials.

Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the commission, made 94 recommendations in total, but most of them called on the federal government for action.

After an initial review of the recommendations, the province reported action on two health and one education recommendation made in the report.

The three recommendations the province had acted on before the report was released include:

  1. A call to change the health care system to recognize aboriginal healing practices and use them in treating aboriginal patients
  2. A call to recruit aboriginal health care providers in aboriginal communities and across the health care field
  3. A call to consult with residential school survivors and aboriginal people to make curriculum about residential schools and other aboriginal history

Already in Manitoba, aboriginal elders visit Winnipeg emergency rooms to work with patients and help ER staff to provide culturally appropriate care.

There are at least three initiatives already in place to recruit and retain aboriginal health care professionals: the Aboriginal Recruitment and Retention Initiative, the new Northern/Remote Family Doctor Residency Program and a cost-covering tuition program for nurse practitioner students who agree to work in northern communities.

In terms of education, the province says students in Grade 5 and 6 learn about treaties, while students in Grade 9 and 11 learn about residential schools.

An aboriginal perspectives credit is also mandatory for all teacher-candidates in Manitoba.

According to government officials, acting on the remaining 31 recommendations is a priority but that will take some time.

"In some instances, the government of Manitoba will need to consult with our partners in the aboriginal community to find the most effective and appropriate way to move forward," officials said in a statement.

Many of the TRC's recommendations call for federal, provincial and territorial governments to address the alarming rate of aboriginal children in the child welfare system.

Some of the specific recommendations include monitoring and assessing child neglect investigations and creating culturally appropriate parenting programs for aboriginal families.

Tuesday, after the public viewing of the TRC closing ceremonies at the University of Winnipeg, Premier Greg Selinger dealing with the crisis of aboriginal kids in state care is a "necessity."

34 recommendations from the TRC report call upon action from Manitoba:

1) We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit​ to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by:

  • Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations.
  • Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so,​ and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where​ they reside.
  • Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations​ are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.
  • Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations​ are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities​ and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.
  • Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.

2) We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prepare and publish annual reports on the number of Aboriginal children (First​ ​Nations, Inuit, and Métis) who are in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children,​ as well as the reasons for apprehension, the total spending on preventive and care​ services by child-welfare agencies, and the effectiveness of various interventions.

3) We call upon all levels of government to fully implement Jordan's Principle.

4) We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop​ ​culturally appropriate parenting programs for Aboriginal families.

5) We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

6) We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages.​

7) We call upon all levels of government to enable residential school Survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver's licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.

8) We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law and constitutional law, and under the Treaties.

9) We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.

10) We call upon all levels of government to: Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities. Provide cultural competency training for all health-care professionals. ​

11) We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.​

12) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to review and amend their respective statutes of limitations to ensure that they conform with the principle that governments and other entities cannot rely on limitation defences to defend legal actions of historical abuse brought by Aboriginal people.

13) We call upon federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so. ​

14) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.​

15) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

16) We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including:

  • Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
  • Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
  • Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.
  • Adopting appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety.

17) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.

18) We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade.​

19) We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms. ​

20) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012.​ ​

21) We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

22) We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.

23) We call upon the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, and the courts to adopt the following legal principles:

  • Aboriginal title claims are accepted once the Aboriginal claimant has established occupation over a particular territory at a particular point in time.
  • Once Aboriginal title has been established, the burden of proving any limitation on any rights arising from the existence of that title shifts to the party asserting such a limitation.

24) We call upon all levels of government to provide annual reports or any current data requested by the National Council for Reconciliation so that it can report on the progress towards reconciliation. The reports or data would include, but not be limited to:

  • The number of Aboriginal children-including Métis and Inuit children-in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children, the reasons for apprehension, and the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies.
  • Comparative funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves.
  • The educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.
  • Progress on closing the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in a number of health indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.
  • Progress on eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in youth custody over the next decade. Progress on reducing the rate of criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization and other crimes.
  • Progress on reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice and correctional systems.

25) We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

26) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:

  • Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples' historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.
  • Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.
  • Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.
  • Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education.

27) We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders.

28) We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

29) We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

30) We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.

31) We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

32) We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

33) We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

34) We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.

About the Author

Chris Glover

CBC News Reporter

Chris Glover has been a reporter, anchor and producer with CBC News for a decade. He’s an award winning storyteller, who has travelled the country in search of fascinating characters with compelling stories to share on TV, radio and online. A series he helped spearhead at CBC Toronto, No Fixed Address, won a national RTDNA award in 2017 and the municipal election special he anchored in 2018 was just nominated for an RTDNA award for best live special.

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