Truth and Reconciliation
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
It is an honour to be present here with you on this sacred day. In some places, sacred fires have been lit, and I hope that in each of our hearts there is a fire burning, a fire of both indignation and of hope.
The indignation is sparked by our growing knowledge of the injustices that occurred and still occur in the relationships between First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and settler Canadians. The injustice that has been forefront is the deaths of thousands of Indigenous children in the residential school system. And, the sickening number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has also fueled the fire. According to a report prepared by the RCMP in 2021,1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada. And at least 105 Indigenous women and girls remained missing under suspicious circumstances or for undetermined reasons. We must not forget the Indigenous men and boys also missing.
The flames of hope are fanned by our choice to learn and reflect. Knowing the true history of Canada, the one we were not taught in school, and the experiences of Indigenous peoples today, we can choose to be part of changing Canada and our communities into places of dignity and respect for Indigenous Peoples. And there is hope to be found in the Popes admission of Canada's "catastrophic" policy of Indigenous residential schools. He acknowledged the fact that the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their cultures, severed families, and marginalized generations in ways still being felt today.
There is hope in the Canadian government recognizing Indigenous peoples' right to self-determination, including the right to freely pursue their economic, political, social, and cultural development and in the settlement of some land treaties. In addition, they are allocating funds to a wide range of indigenous services and continuing to work to ensure all Indigenous communities have clean water. Budget 2021 committed an additional $760.8 million for the Indigenous community Support Fund. Also, Budget 2022 has allotted an additional $122 million over the next three years to the Residential School Missing Children’s – Community Support Funding program, bringing the Government of Canada's total investment to $238.8 million to date to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76 on residential schools missing children and burial information. Our government’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation is unwavering.
If you need someone to talk to, a National Residential School Crisis Line offers emotional support and crisis referral services for residential school Survivors and their families. Call the toll-free Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Hope for Wellness Help Line also offers support to all Indigenous Peoples. Counsellors are available by phone or online chat. This service is available in English and French, and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.
A searing and revelatory account of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls of Highway 16, and an indictment of the society that failed them.
For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found murdered along an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia. The highway is known as the Highway of Tears, and it has come to symbolize a national crisis.
Journalist Jessica McDiarmid investigates the devastating effect these tragedies have had on the families of the victims and their communities, and how systemic racism and indifference have created a climate where Indigenous women and girls are over-policed, yet under-protected.