Indigenous Relations Group
Did you know RUC has an Indigenous Relations Group? To find out what they have been up to, click the link below.
Indigenous Relations Group
Roncesvalles United Church
240 Roncesvalles Avenue
Toronto ON M6R 1L3
The Honourable Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister and Minister Bennett:
RE: TRC Calls to Action Nos. 53 to 56
We are a group within Roncesvalles United Church, seeking to increase understanding of rights and challenges facing Indigenous peoples in Canada, and to act in alliance for reconciliation and justice with Indigenous peoples.
We are concerned that the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action respecting the important role and function of a National Council for Reconciliation has stalled.
We do applaud the Trudeau government for creating an Interim Board of Indigenous leaders to advise on options, scope, and scale, which was followed in 2018 with a final report, and then in 2019 with an identified budget to establish a newly named National Council for Reconciliation (NCR), which was to be realized in 2020-21. Since then, we have seen very little progress.
Reconciliation, we believe, is for all Canadians. The brilliance of the structure of an NCR is to empower a representative collaboration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to take the helm to advance, monitor, and, most importantly, to track implementation of the Calls to Action. When, as the Prime Minister would respond annually to the Report, ensure an adequate budget, and outline next plans for implementation, he would be affirming the commitment of all Canadians.
The urgency of committing to this course of action:
While the fate of many excellent Commission reports languish on a shelf, the TRC clearly worked out a careful strategy for implementation. The strategy can and should be followed.
Canadians are rightly confused by the inadequate steps taken to rectify problems that plague Indigenous people within our borders. Having heard promises, we wonder what is the status of the concerns identified to be solved with the TRC and what is being done, fearing too little or nothing. There is a real hunger in the Canadian population to confront and reach solutions. The structure of an NCR will keep the discourse necessarily on course. Canadians are tired of finger-pointing at who is not doing what, and want to see real leadership from cross-jurisdictional boundaries on moving toward a better future with Indigenous people.
The confirmation of 215 unidentified graves at Kamloops Residential School and the massive outpour of mourning across Canada indicates how much Canadians need a framework for grappling with this horrible news, and expected further revelations. We need guidance in managing our way to a better future, as the NRC workings can deliver. We want encouragement and recognition for reconciliation events, research, artistic expressions, and resolutions, all within the mandate. In particular, Canada needs a national monument to Indigenous children of residential schools, survivors and those who did not come home. Canadians need a place to mourn, a place to affirm never again, (Call to Action no. 81). The NCR process is the proper structure to set the terms of reference for such a monument.
We agree with the Commissioners of the TRC on marking 5 years since the completion of their work, and with the authors of the Yellowhead Institute’s Calls to Action Accountability Status 2020 Update: implementation matters the most. And, the challenges presented by the pandemic are the opportunity to advance, not shelve the Calls to Action. Health, education, child welfare, criminal justice reforms are the substantial problems in need of redress. We need governmental commitment on behalf of all Canadians, not just reminders from retired Commissioners and university scholars, on the status of implementation.
Canadians do not want Reconciliation to wither away as a platitude. We want our federal government to lead us into an era of profound change based on truth, recognition, equality and justice, as guided by the 94 Calls to Action. An NCR can demonstrate Canadians’ commitment to perform the necessary function of identifying areas of need, creative culture aspirations to help us move into a better era, monitoring and evaluating progress, and, working hand in hand with the progressive leadership we expect from our federal leadership.
Would you please respond to this, our request for an earnest commitment from the federal government to implement TRC Calls to Action numbers 53 through 56?