TRC finds Canada committed "cultural genocide"
- Tiffany Head | June 02, 2015
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded that Canada committed “cultural genocide” against Indigenous peoples and used Indian residential schools as its main weapon to accomplish that goal. In a report that is the result of six years of exhaustive work where the TRC visited 300 communities and heard from 6,750 survivors, Commissioners have exposed Canada’s harsh policies governing First Nations people and have given 94 recommendations that the Federal government should implement to help with reconciliation.”
The TRC report affirms the government of Canada aimed to destroy political and social institutions by seizing land, persecuting spiritual leaders, banning languages, outlawing cultural practices, restricting movement and disrupting families so cultural values can’t be passed on to successive generations.
The report also found at least 3,200 children who attended the schools died. The commission that has spent six years examining one of the darkest chapters in Canada’s history is winding up its work with a key question left unanswered – exactly how many Aboriginal children died in residential schools?
Justice Murray Sinclair, who heads the TRC, says the federal government stopped recording the deaths around 1920 after the chief medical officer at Indian Affairs suggested children were dying at an alarming rate.
Sinclair firmly believes that political action needs to be taken to break away from the historical injustices and find a path towards reconciliation.
“Reconciliation requires deliberate, thoughtful and sustained action,” said Sinclair.
Sinclair said it is necessary that the federal government adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Central to directing the path of reconciliation will be the Canadian government’s adoption of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—a declaration that received near unanimity at the UN in 2007,” said Sinclair. “Shamefully, Canada was the only country that raised objections last fall to a UN document reaffirming the declaration."
Sinclair stated many of the commission’s 94 recommendations that were unveiled are based on the principles of the declaration.
With the rejection of the declaration from the Harper government, Sinclair does not believe that the government is truly sincere in its 2008 apology nor taking action in steps toward reconciliation.
“We believe the current government is not willing to make good on its claim that it wishes to join with Aboriginal people in Canada in a ‘a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together’ as promised nine years ago,” said Sinclair. “Words are not enough.”
Canada’s attempts to wipe out Indigenous culture failed, but not without leaving deep wounds, said the report. Sinclair voiced Chief Perry Bellgarde’s words, as it takes more than just words, it takes action.
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- PHOTO GALLERY: Saskatoon TRC commemoration
- Opinion: Learning to walk towards a residential schools solution
- Province looks to build on past successes as part of reconciliation
- Bentwood Box holds many symbols of reconciliation
- What the survivors think
Stay tuned for more coverage on the TRC.
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