In June 2022, a new Historic Places of Canada Act was tabled. Since September 2020, four former residential schools were designated as national historic sites.
The Call to Action:
We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:
i) Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.
ii) Revising the policies, criteria and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history
iii) Developing and maintaining a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools and the contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canada’s history.
In June 2022, the federal government tabled Bill C-23, the Historic Places of Canada Act, which would designate three seats on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board for First Nations, Metis and Inuit representatives. The act also includes Indigenous knowledge as one of the sources of information the board must rely on when making its recommendations.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is mandated to provide advice to the federal government on the designation of places, persons and events that have marked and shaped Canada.
Previously, in June 2021, Rae Mombourquette, a Tlinglit Acadian citizen of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, was appointed as the Yukon representative for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. In January 2021, Sarah Jerome, an elder with the Gwich’in Nation, was appointed as the Northwest Territories representative.
In September 2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, who is responsible for Parks Canada, announced the residential school system will be designated as an event of national historic significance and that two former residential schools were being designated as national historic sites: Portage La Prairie Residential School in Manitoba and Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia.
In July 2021, two more residential schools - Muscowequan in Saskatchewan and Shingwauk in Ontario were designated national historic sites.
Parks Canada’s 2019 National Historic Sites System Plan puts the History of Indigenous Peoples as one of its four top priorities.
“In the context of the federal government’s commitment to truth telling and reconciliation, more needs to be done to acknowledge the centrality of Indigenous peoples in history and to foster dialogue. Indigenous histories, Indigenous connections to the land and the complexity and diversity of Indigenous cultures must command greater attention at heritage places,” the system plan states.
In the 2018 federal budget, the government committed $23.9 million over five years to integrate Indigenous history into national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites managed by Parks Canada.