Canada Day 2017 - How will First Nations be included in Canada’s 150th anniversary next year?

Canada Day 2017 - How will First Nations be included in Canada’s 150th anniversary next year?

Reconciliation? What does it mean?

A year from Canada’s 150th anniversary, can First Nations join in the celebration?

On July 1 we celebrate the last Canada Day before our 2017 sesquicentennial. That leaves us one year to figure out how we are going to invite First Nations citizens to next year’s ceremony in a way that will be genuinely meaningful.

The best thing Non-aboriginal Canadians can do between now and then is come to terms with the hard work that remains to be completed to achieve reconciliation. In an introductory video Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, points out that seven generations of aboriginal children went through the punishing experience of the residential school system, where they were told they were ‘heathens’ and taught to feel ashamed of their heritage.

At the same time Non-aboriginal children were being instilled with negative attitudes towards this country’s First Nations. The work of undoing attitudes that have become so deeply entrenched – of healing – is going to take time and determination. “Because it took us so many generations to get to this point, it’s going to take us at least a few generations to be able to say that we are making progress,” Murray says.

Important work has already begun with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself, but the issues are dauntingly complex. It will take national will to carry on – a commitment on the part of individual Canadians to see this process through. That doesn’t mean average Canadians can be expected to understand the bewildering intricacies of reconciliation, but we will have come a long, long way if we take time in the coming year to understand the spirit of this massive enterprise, and demand our political leaders live up to that spirit.

At the outset, we should bear in mind that accepting responsibility is not the same as taking blame. In fact, accepting responsibility for righting grave historical wrongs is the only way we can avoid blame – for if we knowingly allow the injustices of the past to carry on unresolved into the future, we do become blameworthy. A deep, personal commitment to reconciliation on the part of individual Canadians is the only way of avoiding that dismal outcome.

The majority of Canadians know or are coming to know the truth. A recent Environics Institute telephone survey found that 66 per cent of Non-aboriginal adults are ‘learning about indigenous peoples and their issues.”

Disturbingly, that same survey also found that a significant percentage of Non-aboriginal Canadians believe Indigenous Peoples receive ‘special treatment’ from the government and 67 per cent “believe Indigenous People have a sense of entitlement to government support and services.” Of even greater concern was the finding that fewer than five per cent of Canadians can recall anything specific about the TRC’s calls to action, issued last year.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde is quoted in CBC coverage of the survey results as saying, “If you want reconciliation, you need to make space in your mind, your heart and spirit to get rid of the misconceptions you have about Indigenous Peoples. The stereotype that Indigenous Peoples are dumb, stupid, lazy, drunk and on welfare — put that aside.”

He said the survey results highlight the need for Non-aboriginal Canadians to be better educated about Indigenous Peoples.

The media has a role to play. The complexity of the issues, the arduous multi-generational process of healing, and the patience required even to build trust with First Nations leaders and communities, all make it easier for journalists to focus on other things rather than bring to the fore the most important National issue of our times.

We need to be informed. A good place to begin leading up to 2017 is with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself at trc.ca. Especially important is a grasp of the calls to action that have emerged through the TRC. They are posted via a link toward the end of the ‘TRC reports and findings’ page.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ladysmith resident Bonnie Cook lost the use of most of her basement and her backyard after experiencing a major water leak. (Cole Schisler photo)
Drip by drip: water line leaks lead to big repair bills for Ladysmith homeowners

Nearly all reported leaks occur on old copper lines that have been bent or manipulated

An Ater-group Airon Slug identified during YES’s Bio-Blitz. (Yellow Point Ecological Society photo)
Yellow Point Ecological Society’s Bio-Blitz a big success

The Yellow Point Ecological Society held their first-ever Bio-Blitz over the weekend… Continue reading

Grade 12 LSS student Catherine Sampson, Grade 8 LSS student Cianna Vincent, and LSS Aboriginal Education teacher Brenda Kohlruss led the LSS ceremony honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Secondary ceremony honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

A small ceremony was held in the LSS foyer on the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG

Peter and Wayne Richmond and 49th Parallel Grocery won the award for Business Achievement 20+ Employees at the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd Black Tie Awards on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Submitted)
Ladysmith businesses recognized at Black Tie Awards

Black Tie Awards are given annually by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce

Ladysmith’s Town Council met on May 4 and set a 0.52 percent increase for 2021 property taxes. (Town of Ladysmith/YouTube)
Town of Ladysmith sets 0.52 percent tax increase for 2021

Mayor Aaron Stone praises the increase as among the ‘lowest in the province’

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,000 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

B.C. average home price and sales level to 2023, showing steep drop in sales expected next year. (Central 1)
Forecast calls for B.C. home sales to ‘explode,’ then drop off

Average price to rise another 10% in 2021, credit unions say

Members of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. (File photo)
B.C.-wide #DayOfMusic to feature 100-plus free virtual concerts May 15

‘Our colleagues across the province have figured out new ways to perform and connect,’ VSO boss says

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre on Wilkinson Road in Saanich. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found unresponsive at Saanich jail

Man was in Victoria police custody the day before being found

(File)
With revenge porn on the rise in 2021, B.C. seeks feedback for new legislation

New legislation could help victims take down images and receive compensation

Port Alberni RCMP are investigating a homicide on Third Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
RCMP investigating homicide in Port Alberni apartment

Investigators are still trying to determine the identity of the deceased

Most Read