The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established to find the truth in the dark and painful residential schools in our country’s history.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the release of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, an appeal to mobilize all levels of government, organizations, as well as individuals, to make concrete changes in society. They list specific actions to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.
This is a day for all Canadians to acknowledge the courage of the former students and families who came forward to share their truth and the leadership and guidance of the commissioners who provided us with a path forward. The Commission revealed the heartbreaking details of the role that residential schools played in the history of Canada and the tragic legacy that continues today. It is said that once you know the truth, you cannot un-know it. It is only by increasing our collective understanding of the damage done by colonial policies that we will break down barriers and racism towards Indigenous peoples in Canada.
The Government of Canada has taken steps to address the Calls to Action, including legislation respecting Indigenous languages; legislation on supporting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families; and addressing the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people.
We are implementing Jordan’s Principle which makes sure all First Nations children in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them. From July 2016 to April 30, 2020, more than 594,000 products, services and supports, including speech therapy, educational supports, medical equipment, and mental health services were approved for First Nations children under Jordan’s Principle.
The Government of Canada has also implemented a new policy and funding approach in 2019 for funding First Nations education on reserve – co-developed with First Nations representatives. The goal of the new approach is to transform First Nations education through predictable base funding that is more directly comparable to provincial education systems. The approach also provides full-day kindergarten on reserve for children ages four and five and $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture.
We recognize that there is still much more work to do. Our work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to renew the nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples provides a foundation for a better future.
The Commission closed with the theme of “This ending is just the beginning.” Today, we recommit to honour and support the survivors, and reflect on how everyone – including federal, provincial, territorial, municipal governments and Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast – must play their role in the implementation of the Calls to Action and the journey of reconciliation.