“…there’s a lot more that needs to be said. We haven’t been able to get to the bottom of the missing children, for example. We know that we’re talking in the hundreds of children that were sent to the schools and never came home.”
Flashback: GG relaunches Truth and Reconciliation Commission | New members tapped for residential school commission: report | Chair to have final say as residential schools commission jobs rewritten | Remaining 2 members resign from residential schools commission | Commission to Probe Graves at Native ‘Residential School’ Sites | Government to hold talks over future of residential-schools commission | Chairman quits troubled residential-school commission | Truth commission tied too closely to government: aboriginal groups | Canada hears of native abuse pain | Location of Mass Graves of Residential School Children Revealed for the First Time; Independent Tribunal Established
Joe Friesen, The Globe and Mail
December 20, 2009
After a year lost to infighting, the residential schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission is up and running again under its new chair, Manitoba Judge Murray Sinclair.
He and commissioners Marie Wilson and Wilton Littlechild have begun travelling the country, meeting with some of the 80,000 aboriginal survivors of the schools.
The commission will also hold seven national events designed to promote reconciliation. The first will be in Winnipeg next June.
It was more than a year ago that Mr. Sinclair’s predecessor, Ontario Judge Harry LaForme, abruptly resigned, blaming conflict with his fellow commissioners and interference from the Assembly of First Nations.
What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s mandate?
We’re the first commission of its kind in the world looking at how children were treated by governments. We are mandated to tell the full and complete story of the residential schools. The second component of our mandate is to look into a process of reconciliation to overcome the legacy of the residential school experience.
Does Canada need more truth before it’s ready for reconciliation?
A lot of people think they’ve heard all they need to hear, but in reality there’s a lot more that needs to be said. We haven’t been able to get to the bottom of the missing children, for example. We know that we’re talking in the hundreds of children that were sent to the schools and never came home.
Another area that may not have been anticipated is the question of student-on-student abuse. We know that with the way the cycle of violence works, those who are victimized at a young age can tend to become victimizers later in life. We’re beginning to hear stories about children who were victimized in the schools by other older children.
A year has been lost because of what happened with the previous commissioners. Has another year been added to your mandate?
We were appointed in June and given a five-year-mandate. What hasn’t been addressed is that for a year now the commission was spending money and not in a way that benefited the work of the commission. There were staff being paid salaries and not doing much work because the commission wasn’t going in any direction.
How much was spent in that year?
It’s in the millions of dollars, but whether it’s $2-million or $7-million we’re not sure yet.
What is your relationship like with the Assembly of First Nations? Have there been any questions of interference as was raised by the last commission?
They’re always interfering with us, but that’s a good thing. We want their guidance. This commission belongs to the parties and we have an obligation to see the commission does what the parties intended it to do.
Why is this commission so important to Canada?
The one element we want to emphasize is that this is not just a story about abuse, about bad apples that went out to harm children. This is really about the institutionalization of children. Children in vast numbers were taken away from their families and raised in an environment that seriously harmed their ability to function as human beings, specifically as adults and parents. When you’re raised in an institution you’re not able to learn effectively how to parent. They didn’t have the support systems. They lost touch with their culture and language and therefore with their elders.
Have you decided what the national events will look like? Will they each treat a theme?
One might be about how the children were rounded up and taken away, for example, and another might be about what went on in the schools. … We may encourage more talking circles, town-hall dialogues, where people can speak their mind as they see fit.
Source | See Also under Natives: Olympic torch delayed by Toronto protest | Olympic torch protested in Montreal | Anti-HST protest at Ontario legislature spills onto Toronto streets | B.C. Nisga’a First Nation approves private property rights | BC Native tribe will petition Ottawa to remove its Indian status | Court upholds aboriginal fishing rights on Vancouver Island | GG relaunches Truth and Reconciliation Commission | Higher instance of severe H1N1 cases in natives, women | Remote B.C. native community hit by flu | Health Canada apologizes for body bags delivered to First Nations for H1N1 outbreak | Ottawa sends body bags to First Nations communities for flu battle | BC chiefs kill flawed aboriginal rights law | Social workers erred in removing child from poor parents: report | U.S. native activist Peltier up for parole hearing | Akwesasne chief pushes for Mohawk sovereignty | Temporary Cornwall border post opens, sidestepping native dispute | Manitoba First Nations declare swine flu state of emergency | Military spycraft patrols Ontario border from Fort Drum | Manitoba First Nations, health system straining under flu outbreak | Title law would undermine native rights, lawyers say | Mohawk protesters block Ontario bridge over arming of border guards | Peru protest violence kills natives and police | New members tapped for residential school commission: report | Akwesasne natives protest armed border guards, border crossing closed in retaliation | RCMP shocked 16 people five times or more last year | BC Court Tells Ottawa to Amend Status Rules for Natives | Chair to have final say as residential schools commission jobs rewritten | Geronimo’s descendants fight Yale secret society for their ancestor’s remains | Remaining 2 members resign from residential schools commission | Quebec First Nations declare sovereignty, opposition to provincial development plans | Commission to Probe Graves at Native ‘Residential School’ Sites | Government to hold talks over future of residential-schools commission | Chairman quits troubled residential-school commission | Truth commission tied too closely to government: aboriginal groups | Mounties pinned me down in cell and tasered me, Manitoba girl says | OPP threatened natives to end blockade | Alberta natives protest oil exploration on their land | Water shut-off on Manitoba reserve an ‘act of terrorism’: chief | Canada hears of native abuse pain | Native leaders vow to fight mining law in Ontario | Mohawk protesters set up blockade in eastern Ont. town | Location of Mass Graves of Residential School Children Revealed for the First Time; Independent Tribunal Established | Judge gets 7 years for sexual assault on young native women