“What took place in residential schools amounts to nothing short of cultural genocide, it was nothing less than a systematic and concerted attempt to extinguish the spirit of aboriginal peoples. But as the survivors have shown us – they have survived.” – Justice Murray Sinclair, Truth & Reconciliation Commission
The long-awaited report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Canada’s residential schools has been released.
The 382-page report is the culmination of six exhaustive years of study into church-run, government-funded residential school institutions, which operated for more than 120 years.
Hundreds gathered in Vancouver to watch the report come down via livestream broadcast
Many who attended are residential school survivors.
Lillian Howard says overall, she found the report and its recommendations to be both inspiring and empowering.
Howard spent three years in a residential school from the young age of five.
“That’s when I was removed from my family, my friends, my large extended family, from the love and the warmth into a very cold, hard institution.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson attended the event, saying it’s difficult to believe the abuse at the schools took place for years, without any intervention.
The report calls Canada’s residential school system nothing short of “cultural genocide”:
“Cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group. States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized, and populations are forcibly transferred and their movement is restricted. Languages are banned. Spiritual leaders are persecuted, spiritual practices are forbidden, and objects of spiritual value are confiscated and destroyed. And, most significantly to the issue at hand, families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next.
In its dealing with Aboriginal people, Canada did all these things.”
The summary of the Truth and Reconciliation report makes 94 broad recommendations, including:
- Greater police independence
- Reducing the number of aboriginal children in foster care
- Restrictions on the use of conditional and mandatory minimum sentences
- Additional CBC funding
- A statutory holiday to honour survivors
- An apology from the Pope on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as “the framework for reconciliation.”
Perry Bellegrade, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations accepted the final report from the Commissioner Murray Sinclair in Ottawa earlier today.