Truth and Reconciliation: What's Next?
Earlier this month Michael spoke to Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about the impact of residential schools on 150,000 Aboriginal children. He spent five years spent listening to the testimony of survivors from all over Canada after which he said, "Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships. There are no shortcuts"
The Canadian government formally apologized to survivors in 2008. The Commission was established after the government settled the largest class-action suit in Canadian history. But, according to some First Nations intellectuals and activists, it is all too little too late, and hardly a serious gesture of reconciliation.
Taiaiake Alfred, the founding Director of the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria, does not mince words - the issue is not reconciliation but rather "how to use restitution as the first step toward creating justice and a moral society."
The writer, Lee Maracle, is equally blunt. She says that post-apology, Aboriginal people were expected to forgive the government and blend in with the rest of Canada. Ms. Maracle is one of Canada's most prolific First Nations' writers. Her novels include Ravensong, Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel and Daughters Are Forever.
She is a member of the Stó:lō Nation - her mother is Metis, her father is Salish, and her grandfather was Chief Dan George. She grew up in North Vancouver. She is an Instructor in the Aboriginal Studies Department at the University of Toronto.
Taiaiake Alfred is a Mohawk philosopher, writer and teacher. He was born in Montreal and grew up on the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. His numerous books include Wah-sah-say, Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Professor Alfred has served as an advisor to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and to many other Indigenous governments and organizations. He is the founding Director of the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria.