[Edited to remove a glitch from an earlier posting.]
Today marks the first time Canada recognizes an official day of Truth and Reconciliation; to remember the children who were forced into residential schools, the missing and murdered Indigenous women and the First Peoples who have been subject to unfair and often illegal colonial practices since this nation was formed.
If you feel a sense of helplessness as the numbers of discovered bodies of children ratchet higher, and our sitting federal government continues to maintain a legal case against compensation paid to the living children who were subject to being wrenched from their families and having their way of life denied to them -- there is still something you can do. Many things.
I have to say -- I am suspicious of the performative nature that surrounds events like these. That we have a prime minister who has donned First Nations garb in supposed solidarity, only to stab our Indigenous peoples in the back by withdrawing support, not following through on promises [clean drinking water on all reserves is but one example] and actively working in court to prevent settlements going out to Indigenous children harmed by residential school experiences -- it's sickening.
Instead, let's listen to the voices of our First Nations people.
Quoting Jody Wilson-Raybould [@Puglaas]:
What we must do, with urgency…
—Focus more on substance than symbolism;
—Reject performative reconciliation & demand true implementation of Indigenous rights; —Recognize that reconciliation is beyond partisanship;
—Support the rebuilding of Indigenous Governments & Nations; and Act
We must act each and every day—individually and collectively—to create the space for a more just, equal, and inclusive society.
You can read the full report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in particular the 94 calls to action. You can read the full report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, including the 231 Calls for Justice.
BC's local newspaper The Tyee has taken the words of journalist Angela Sterritt to heart, when she called on settlers to 'value Indigenous experiences, perspectives and voices enough to listen to, rather than speaking over them...'. Today they have posted pieces from ten distinct aboriginal voices, calling for different paths to reconciliation over the year, an excellent bit of reading for this special day.
And a final reminder from me of the Indigenous Canada course, a FREE course offered by the University of Alberta and taught by Indigenous voices. Of course it can only scratch the surface of the history of the First Peoples in Canada -- but it is a start.
What will you do to mark this day?