The oppression of Indigenous peoples in Canada has had catastrophic effects on their communities. This history has remained seemingly hidden from the public eye for most of Canada’s history, but social change and intolerance of such atrocities has taken a grip over Canada’s media in 2021. Let’s discuss what federal acknowledgment of truth and reconciliation means moving forward.
When the news of 215 bodies being discovered in a closed residential school near Kamloops took Canada’s media by storm, Canadians were not hesitant to speak out. For many, the numbers were jarring, especially as more graves were investigated and the numbers kept rising. But for some, namely Indigenous communities, these numbers have been expected. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented its 94 “Calls to Action,” which, among other things, called for such investigations before finally being answered 6 years later.
The Calls to Action
Federal authorities have, for the most part, not acted on the calls to action. To date, only 14 have been completed. Many have argued that finding suitable solutions and resolving these issues is one of the primary steps in reconciliation. The document has outlined many issues, including those relating to education and acknowledgment of land rights, but many activists have begun prioritizing investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women. The issues that the calls to action seek to rectify have been wholly reasonable, but they also put into perspective the challenges that Indigenous people have had to face as a result of colonialism and racism.
What is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?
In light of the atrocities committed in residential schools (the last of which closed in 1996), the federal government designated September 30th as a new statutory holiday, which was previously designated only as Orange Shirt Day. It has been a day to raise awareness regarding the legacy of crimes against Indigenous communities, but federal recognition has indicated how public opinion can influence the steps toward reconciliation.
What we can do
For those of us who are not of Indigenous background, it can be difficult to navigate our place in what we can do to be allies, aside from the typical Instagram story repost.
As it would be most suitable to learn directly from Indigenous peoples and communities as well as listening to their voices and stories, you can freely check out the following resource as a starting point:
Calls to action PDF: