Residential school survivors call for action

A former residential school student in northeastern Ontario says true reconciliation relies on what comes next.

A former residential school student in northeastern Ontario says true reconciliation relies on what comes next.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a summary of its report yesterday, after spending six years documenting what happened in Canada's Indian residential schools.

It has made 93 recommendations to rebuild the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in this country.

Michael Cachagee attended residential schools in Moose Factory, Chapleau and Sault Ste. Marie.

He said now that the words are on paper, it's time for action.

"This whole aspect of reconciliation has to go beyond words," he said.

"It's going to take resourcing. It's going to take money. It's going to take energy. It's going to take cooperative will."

Recommendations in the report include funding for aboriginal education, an Aboriginal Languages Act, and a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Opposition politicians call for action

Following the release of the report, opposition members of parliament from northern Ontario called on the government to open the cheque book and invest in some of the recommendations.

New Democrat MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, Carol Hughes, said she believes any tax dollars spent improving on-reserve education or preserving aboriginal languages would be worth it.

"I think it's actually priceless when you look at it," she said. "I mean, look at how much it's cost us so far. I think in the long run, it costs us more."

Carol Hughes is the NDP MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. (CBC)

The NDP said it plans to make the disparity between First Nations and the rest of Canada an issue in the upcoming federal election.

Hughes said traditionally, very few aboriginal people have paid attention to federation elections, but said there are signs, including the recent Idle No More movement, that it will be different leading up to the next vote in October.

"I think they are motivated," she said. "They realize that if there is no change at the top, then nothing is going to change."

In the 2011 federation election, there was a 44 per cent voter turnout in First Nations reserves, compared with 61 per cent across the country.