Truth and reconciliation commissioners say progress too slow, five years after report’s release

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president agrees: “There isn’t the urgency to do the actual work”

Students at the All Saints residential school in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, operated by the Anglican church, pose for a photo in 1940. The three members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission want governments to do more to carry out the TRC’s calls to action, which were released in 2015. (Anglican Church of Canada General Synod Archives)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Truth and reconciliation commissioners say the federal government hasn’t done enough to implement their report’s recommendations, five years after its release.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, agrees.

“There isn’t the urgency to do the actual work,” he said.

“There might have been the urgency to talk … and to hold meetings, but now we’re getting into system change.”

It’s “very concerning” the federal government does not have a clear plan to implement the TRC’s calls to action and has not followed through with its commitment to create a National Council for Reconciliation, said Sen. Murray Sinclair, chair of the TRC, in a statement released on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The TRC investigated the impacts of residential schools in Canada. Nearly 7,000 survivors came forward to share stories of abuse and the lasting effects it had on their families, languages, cultures and communities.

The Truth and Reconciliation commissioners gathered Dec. 15, on the fifth anniversary of the final report’s release, to call for a renewed sense of urgency in meeting their 94 calls to action. From left: Marie Wilson, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Sen. Murray Sinclair. (Photo from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that 80 per cent of the 94 calls to action in the report, created to bring justice to survivors of residential schools across Canada, are “complete or well underway.”

Obed said there is truth in both statements, but “it’s very simplistic to just put the TRC into percentage points” and “that is not something that ever is going to appeal to residential school survivors.”

The commissioners said progress in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was tabled recently, has been slow.

Obed said the bill is a positive sign, but “it’s very unfortunate that we live in a country where certain jurisdictions still find a problem with recognizing, respecting and then implementing our human rights.”

Six provinces have asked the federal government to delay the bill.

“I am most disheartened that Alberta, the province that had the highest number of residential schools in Canada, is leading these attempts at delays,” said Commissioner Wilton Littlechild.

The commissioners noted some signs of progress since the final report was released:

Some provinces have incorporated the history of residential schools into school curriculum, but the commissioners decried political rollbacks on this progress in Alberta and Ontario.

“All governments need to do more to ensure that survivors can see real and meaningful progress in their lifetimes,” said Sinclair.

Obed agrees. He thinks progress in areas like education, policing and violence against women hasn’t been prioritized as much as it should be.

“It hurts and I would imagine people are still quite angry about that,” he said.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Always one way street, but not on

    I wish for a more rapid conclusion to this also, but let’s consider something. The people handling the case in the government are not all bad people, I think some are, most are not. These government people are people of this day. They are disturbed by what happen in this awful residential school situation. They are not the same mindset and cruel and stupid as were the government of the day when this was happening. Most Canadians are shocked by this, I know I am. Let’s allow it to slow down if it needs to. Rushing out a few dollars, I hope that’s not the real goal, but rushing out a few dollars before people get too elderly or die. Is not an answer. When the Inuit leaders make a call for rush decision, they discredit the whole Inuit society, and the whole process.

  2. Posted by Talking heads on

    Obed said “it’s very unfortunate that we live in a country where certain jurisdictions still find problem with recognizing, respecting and then implementing our human rights”
    .
    The last I checked human rights laws applied to all Canadians and land claims have been protected under the constitution. Does Obed have anything meaningful to say other than to spread misinformation with these kinda of statements? Will newspapers really print anything without fact checking?

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      Nattan lives in a universe essentially free from push back or critique; the only exception to this, and it’s not much, is comment sections on news sites or social media. I should mention, while media could fill this roll, they are understandably reluctant of outing themselves as alt-right provocateurs (half joking).

      If we zoom out a bit we might also observe that ITK enjoys the luxury, much like NTI, of having few expectations beyond regular criticism of government. Knowing this we should be prepared to ask are these reflexive and predictable? Or nuanced, insightful and informative?
      .
      Nattan is intelligent, thoughtful and well intentioned. His assessments rarely miss important elements of what is going on. That said, he crafts his narratives carefully and purposefully toward specific political goals. This is raw politics, where the ends may, and often do, supersede philosophical truths.

      For example, presenting opposition to UNDRIP as opposition to Indigenous rights is simplistic, dismissive and intellectually dishonest. Yet, it is an extremely effective rhetorical device, which is to say it is politically expedient.

  3. Posted by Thomas Aggark on

    Today new generation hasnt done any wrongful things but this is really effective. Even though many new generation has alot to face towards brighter days, i think being in a place where it is really visible, it just attracts more. Unwanted attraction that effects the life of those who werent even involve.

  4. Posted by Toomasi on

    Today new generation hasnt done any wrongful things but this is really effective. Even though many new generation has alot to face towards brighter days, i think being in a place where it is really visible, it just attracts more. Unwanted attraction that effects the life of those who werent even involve.

  5. Posted by Rick on

    Remember? Obed first priority was to changed Edmonton Eskimos name on Canadian Football League, I think he still dealing with this.

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