In the spirit of the TRC Reading Challenge (#ReadTheTRCReport) the following are my notes on the the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada’s Final Report: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. The goal is to incite more people to read the report and to generate productive, ongoing conversation. Obviously, these notes are not comprehensive and they reflect my own research interests and biases (for instance, in digital media and the politics of forgiveness). Comments, thoughts, and criticisms are welcome.
You can read the final report yourself here
Reconciliation and UNDRIP
A HUGE part of this final report is about Canada adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). (137, 146, 153, 187-191).
The Commission is convinced that a refusal to respect the rights and remedies in the Declaration will serve to further aggravate the legacy of residential schools, and will constitute a barrier to progress towards reconciliation” (137).
-Under UNDRIP, self-determination is the key indicator of reconciliation (187).
-With UNDRIP there is a possibility of transitional justice, insofar as with it there is an actual chance to shift out of colonial policy.
The IRSSA involved the “largest single recognition of criminal victimization on Canadian history” (178-79)
The Canadian government too often levies the statute of limitations as a means get out of litigation (167)
The Commission heard from over 6,000 witnesses (V)
This report really skips over the details of Laforme’s resignation.
Details of court injunction for government to release documents (27)
Cyberspace: 93,350 views of TRC events from at least 62 different countries (31).
In a digital world, where students have ready access to a barrage of information concerning Treaties, Aboriginal rights, or historical wrongs such as residential schools, they must know how to access the credibility of these sources for themselves. As active citizens, they must be able to engage in debates on these issues, armed with real knowledge and deepened understandings about the past (240)
Digital Storytelling Projects: “Residential School Resistance Narratives: Strategies and Significance for Indigenous Youth”
Definitions of Reconciliation used by the Commission
“Getting to the truth was hard, but getting to reconciliation will be harder” (VI)
“reconciliation, in the context of Indian residential schools, is similar to dealing with a situation of family violence. It’s about coming to terms with events of the past in a manner that overcomes conflict and establishes a respectful and healthy relationship among people, going forward” (6)
“Without truth, justice, and healing, there can be no genuine reconciliation” (12).
“reconciliation offers a new way of living together” (22).
“reconciliation must become a way of life” (184)
“reconciliation is not possible without knowing the truth” (271)
Aboriginal people and the state have very different views on what reconciliation is (187).
Elder Fred Kelly on the danger of the TRC as a template (195).
“Reconciliation is all about respect” (236).
Call for a “royal proclamation of reconciliation” (199)
Call for a National Council of Reconciliation (218)
Suggestion that we have already lost the momentum of reconciliation since Harper’s
2008 apology (8).
Reconciliation and Forgiveness
Honourable Steven Point on survivors inability to forgive (14)
Reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing conflated (17, 18).
And RCAP (215).
“Reconciliation is not just an apology but a two-way path of apology and forgiveness” (311).
Reconciliation and the neighbour (301, 310); “the work of reconciliation is work for neighbours” (308).
“The schools were part of the colonization and conversion of Aboriginal people, and were intended to bring civilization and salvation to their children. These were the rationales that were used to justify making the lives of so many children unhappy” (43).
-the model for residential schools came from the industrial schools in Europe and North America, which were used to educate the urban poor (57).
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation serves as a “site of conscience” for Canadians and Indigenous peoples (264)
Comparative TRC Analysis
Unlike some truth and reconciliation commissions that have focused on individual victims of human rights violations committed over a short period of time, this Commission has examined both the individual and collective harms perpetrated against Aboriginal families, communities, and nations for well over a century, as well as the preconditions that enabled such violence and oppression to occur (269)
Something to remind myself of:
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was not established because of any widespread public outcry, demanding justice for residential school Survivors. Neither did the Settlement Agreement, including the TRC, come about only because government and church defendants, faced with huge class-action lawsuits, decided it was preferable to litigation. Focusing only on the motivations of the defendants does not tell the whole story. It is important not to lose sight of the many ways in which Aboriginal peoples have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of reconciliation in Canada (208)