Need to talk? The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day. Call toll free at 1-866-925-4419.
June is National Indigenous History Month, and we encourage everyone to reflect and find ways to honour Indigenous peoples, including residential school survivors. Take time to learn about residential schools, our shared colonial history, and the impacts that are continuing today. June 2nd, 2021 marked the sixth anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The TRC was mandated to learn and document the truth about what happened in residentials schools, including hearing the stories of survivors, and informing Canadians about this history and legacy. Its establishment was a direct result of the courage and resilience of residential school survivors, through the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
Over this past month, Indigenous peoples and all Canadians have been impacted by the unmakred graves of missing Indigenous children. While shocking to many Canadias, the existence of htese injustices were known to Indigenous Peoples and documented by the TRC, which released multiple reports from 2015-2016. A six-volume report, “Canada’s Residential Schools,” documents the history and legacy of residential schools, missing children and unmarked burials, and challenges of reconciliation. There is a summary report Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, and the 94 Calls to Action.
Now, more than ever, we need to stand together, reflect, honour Indigenous peoples, and find ways to meaningfully support reconciliation. Stories of survivors are shared through their own report, The Survivors Speak.
Implementing the 94 Calls to Action
Across Canada, communities, organizations, individuals, and governments are contributing to awareness and implementation of the TRC’s Calls to Action. Reconciliation is not a destination, it is an ongoing commitment necessary for the betterment of all. Important work is still needed, and as of June 30th, 2021, 14 Calls to Action have been completed, 23 are in progress with projects underway, 37 are in progress with projects proposed, and 20 have yet to be started. To learn about the status of each of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action visit CBC News’ Beyond 94: Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
In June 2021, four Calls to Action were implemented. Stsmél̓qen Ronald E. Ignace was appointed the first Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, alongside three Indigenous directors to support Indigenous peoples in revitalizing their languages, implementing Call to Action 15. Read the announcement in seven Indigenous languages. The federal government passed legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Call to Action 43. September 30th is now National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, implementing Call to Action 80. Call to Action 94 was fulfilled through the recognizing treaties with Indigenous peoples in the Canadian Oath of Citizenship.
Throughout this month the BC Treaty Commission supported an information sharing campaign (still available through our social media accounts), highlighting all of the TRC Calls to Action and the work being done across British Columbia to advance reconciliation, and support Indigenous nationhood and self-governance. The Treaty Commission encourages all those who live in British Columbia and across Canada to reflect on the Calls to Action as a resource and opportunity to learn more about the past, present and future work of reconciliation.
BC Claims Task Force Report
June 28th, 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of the British Columbia Claims Task Force Report. The Task Force was created by agreement between First Nations representatives, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada to provide recommendations for tripartite treaty negotiations. The BC treaty negotiations framework and the BC Treaty Commission were created, and the report’s 19 recommendations continues to support a pathway to self-determination and self-government through modern treaties and agreements.
Indigenous history month is only one of many opportunities to learn and participate in the ongoing work of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a collective and an individual responsibility for all of us living in Canada. This year many may be looking for ways to help support the survivors of residential schools. We encourage you to learn more about the Indigenous-led organizations working to address the legacy of the residential school system and, for those who are able, to donate to support this important work.
For descriptions these organizations’ work, click here.