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Jan Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 21 VOL. 75 PART 1 JANUARY 2017 RECONCILIATION – A LAWYERING IMPERATIVE By Karey Brooks Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.1 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”) was mandated to record and address the legacy of Indian residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation in Canada. It was established in 2009, it released its findings and calls to action in June 2015 and its final report (the “TRC Report”) was published in December 2015. In a Globe and Mail editorial published on the day the TRC released its findings, the editor evoked the image of parents watching, powerless, as their terrified and crying children were led away by a government agent to the back of a truck to begin their residential “schooling”. The image is a powerful one: no family should ever have to endure the forced removal of their children under any conditions, let alone as part of a cultural genocide. Yet such a traumatic experience was the reality for tens of thousands of Aboriginal families for over a century. For Aboriginal children, the knock on the door was just the first step toward what would be years dominated by fear, loneliness, lack of affection, institutionalized neglect, cultural transformation and often horrendous physical, sexual and mental abuse. Evoking the image of the removal of one’s own children is extremely powerful in underlining the enormity of the injustices inflicted upon Aboriginal families. The Globe and Mail editor wants us to put ourselves in the place of peoples who have faced ongoing and painful racism. Yet for those of us who are not Aboriginal, our minds cannot possibly do the work that is being demanded by the image evoked. At best, we will be able to extend our


Jan Advocate 2017
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