OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP (Saanich – Gulf Islands) issued the following statement regarding today’s report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
“Today, we pause and listen to the intergenerational survivors of Canada’s Residential School System. Their stories, collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and presented today, describe the abuses endured by thousands of innocent children – torn from their families, their language and their culture. This abuse took place in school systems administered and funded by the Canadian government in partnership with Christian churches. Thousands of these children died in the care of institutions that were inured to their crimes. The Canadian government pursued a policy of cultural genocide – a cruel colonial attempt to wipe entire cultures from the face of this land.
“Reconciliation means forging new relationships in light of this history – extending the respect and equality to First Nations that has been withheld for generations. The TRC findings provide an unprecedented accounting of our past mistakes; but, also an opportunity to atone. The report outlines recommendations for actions that touch all jurisdictions, all policy areas and all Canadians. Although the last residential school closed in 1996, their devastating effects remain. Canada consistently ranks in the top ten of the UN Human Development Index, but First Nations rank 63 rd or lower. These recommendations give us the means to work with aboriginal communities to begin to overcome the historical and ongoing injustices of brutal colonialism and cultural genocide. We can, and must, all take action to redress the legacy of residential schools.”
Bruce Hyer, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP (Thunder Bay – Superior North), continued:
“We must bring swift and immediate action to combat the attitudes and injustices that still remain from our government’s past policies of cultural and economic subjugation. We must honour our treaties. We must improve our child welfare system that still wreaks havoc on so many Aboriginal families and communities. We must invest fully in Aboriginal communities to provide education and health care equal to that provided off-reserve.
“We must work to support the survival and restoration of language and cultural traditions. We must fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The TRC has recommended all these steps, and many more, to begin the process of reconciliation. We need more than apologies. We need meaningful action and full partnership.”
Elizabeth May concluded: “Canada’s great shame has been laid before us in harrowing detail. It may be history, but it is not only of the past. The searing pain inflicted by the residential school system is crippling lives today. Let us not stand idle. It is our collective moral responsibility to walk together on a path to truth, justice, love and reconciliation.”