THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 23 found in Schedule “N” of the Settlement Agreement, was to reveal to Canadians the truth about the history and ongoing legacy of Indian residential schools and to guide a process of reconciliation within Aboriginal families, and between Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal communities, churches, governments and Canadians. Between 2008 and 2015, the TRC hosted seven national events across Canada, and provided opportunities for affected individuals and communities to share their experiences of residential schools. The TRC Report was based on 7,000 survivor statements and 5 million documents from government, churches and schools, as well as a plethora of secondary sources. At the closing event in June 2015, the TRC released its executive summary, which included its findings and 94 calls to action aimed at redressing the legacy of residential schools and advancing the process of reconciliation in Canada. The final report was released on December 15, 2015. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to implementing all the recommendations, including the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. HONOURING THE TRUTH The TRC Report is the most comprehensive account of the past harms to Aboriginal peoples at the hands of the government and the continuing inequalities that burden Aboriginal peoples. The commissioners found that the residential schools were abysmal failures as educational institutions. Many residential schools implemented half-day systems whereby students were in class for half the day and engaged in what amounted to child labour for the other half. But key to the commissioners’ findings was that the residential schools had a more sinister agenda. The commissioners found that the residential schools were part of a larger government agenda to destroy those structures and practices that allow Aboriginal people to continue as a group. To summarize, the commissioners made the following findings: • Residential schools were based on the assumption that European civilization and Christian religion were superior to Aboriginal culture, which was seen as savage and brutal. • Residential schools were part of a larger government mandate to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will. • Residential schools were designed primarily to separate children from their parents to break their link to their culture and identity.
Jan Advocate 2017
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