Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners gather for first time in five years to raise alarm
The three Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson, are issuing a public statement expressing their concern about the slow and uneven pace of implementation of the Calls to Action released by the TRC five years ago today.
The three Commissioners have come together for the first time since the release of TRC’s final report because they feel strongly that the sense of urgency, purpose and unity around the Calls to Action must be renewed. While they acknowledge important and encouraging initiatives that have been made, they note that the essential foundations for reconciliation have yet to be implemented, despite government commitments.
“Five years ago today, we delivered a report, and 94 Calls to Action, that we hoped would change the fabric of Canada forever, and bring forward important changes in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. We’ve seen some promising changes like new curriculum and courses that teach the history of Residential Schools in Canada. However, it is very concerning that the federal government still does not have a tangible plan for how they will work towards implementing the Calls to Action,” said Senator Murray Sinclair.
The Commissioners note the slow progress in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which they had identified as “the framework for reconciliation.” While they welcome recently tabled federal legislation to implement the Declaration, they note that passage of the bill remains uncertain and that some provinces have called for further delay.
“I am most disheartened that Alberta, the province that had the highest number of residential schools in Canada, is leading these attempts at delays. Reconciliation and respect for rights of Indigenous peoples must go hand in hand,” said Commissioner Wilton Littlechild.
In addition to implementation of the UN Declaration, the Commissioners’ statement highlights the fact that the federal government has not yet followed through on its commitment to establish a National Council for Reconciliation to assess and promote reconciliation efforts across Canada.
“When we issued our Final Report with its 94 Calls to Action, we knew that the road to reconciliation would be long,” said Commissioner Marie Wilson. “None of us expected that we would sit down five years later and say that all 94 had been implemented. However, five years later we did expect to see real progress for laying the foundations for national reconciliation, and specifically, the two missing pillars we need to support all the rest. All governments need to do more to ensure that Survivors can see real and meaningful progress in their lifetimes.”
To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the release of the TRC final report on Dec. 15, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in partnership with APTN, Canada’s national Indigenous television network, will broadcast a special edition of APTN InFocus at 2:00 pm CST (3:00 pm EST) on APTN, and online as an APTN National News Facebook Live event.
The event will feature the three Commissioners reflecting on the Calls to Action, what has been accomplished, and what governments and all Canadians can do to renew their commitments and redouble their efforts towards reconciliation.