WHAT DOES RECONCILIATION MEAN?
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was launched in 2009. When the commission, Elders, advisors and staff, along with representatives from the Survivors and the members of the parties to the settlement agreement, gathered for the first time, one of their initial tasks was to come up with a working definition of reconciliation. As they brainstormed and shared their personal definitions of reconciliation, they came up with 128 different definitions. Wow! That gives you a sense of how complex reconciliation can be. In the end, the TRC defined reconciliation as:
“An ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that “will require commitment from all those affected including First Nations, Inuit and Métis former Indian residential school (IRS) students, their families, communities, religious entities, former school employees, government and the people of Canada.”
PRINCIPLES OF RECONCILIATION
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada believes that in order for Canada
to flourish in the twenty-first century, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canada must be based on the following principles.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.
First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, as the original peoples of this country and as self-determining peoples, have Treaty, constitutional, and human rights that must be recognized and respected.
Reconciliation is a process of healing of relationships that requires public truth sharing, apology, and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.
Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal peoples’ education, cultures and languages, health, child welfare, the administration of justice, and economic opportunities and prosperity.
Reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health, and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.
The perspectives and understandings of Aboriginal Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of the ethics, concepts, and practices of reconciliation are vital to long-term reconciliation.
Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.
Reconciliation requires political will, joint leadership, trust building, accountability, and transparency, as well as a substantial investment of resources.
Reconciliation requires sustained public education and dialogue, including youth engagement, about the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights, as well as the historical and contemporary contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian society.