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”
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.
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:
- New Indigenous language legislation has been tabled and a new Indigenous Languages office was created
- New child welfare legislation was tabled
- The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was established
- A bill to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is now with the Senate
- Canada designated residential schools as an event of national historical significance
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.