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Understanding Indigenous Realities: Revitalization and Reconciliation (IRA1-V59)

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This video addresses the injustices endured by Indigenous Peoples in Canada, including the residential school system, forced relocations, and the ongoing repression of Indigenous rights, while also highlighting how courage and determination have catalyzed the reconciliation movement of today.

Duration: 00:40:04
Published: February 2, 2024
Type: Video


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Understanding Indigenous Realities: Revitalization and Reconciliation (IRA1-V59)

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Transcript: Understanding Indigenous Realities: Revitalization and Reconciliation (IRA1-V59)

The CSPS logo appears onscreen.
The screen fades to Nathalie Gagnon, Cynthia John, Ryan Michael Dougherty, and Jennifer Wallenius in separate video chat panels.

Nathalie Gagnon: Boozhoo. Nathalie Gagnon n’diznikaaz. Anishinaaabe kwe. My name is Nathalie Gagnon. I am anishinaaabeg Algonquin.

Cynthia John: Aanii Cynthia John n’dizhniikaaz. Anishinaabe kwe. Wikwemikong n’doonjiibaa. Waawaashkesh n’doodem. Hello, my name is Cynthia John and I’m a member of Wikwemikong First Nation, and I’m also part of the deer clan.

Ryan Michael Dougherty: Hello, my name is Ryan Michael Dougherty and I am an ally to Indigenous peoples.

Jennifer Wallenius: Boozhoo. Aaniinh. Jennifer Wallenius nizhnikaaz. Bawating indoonjibaa. My name is Jennifer Wallenius. I am from Sault Ste. Marie. I am Metis-Anishinaabe and a member of the Mississauga First Nation in Northern Ontario, and we all work in Indigenous Learning at the Canada School of Public Service.

We are very pleased to present you Understanding Indigenous Realities: Revitalization and Reconciliation, which is a brief historical and contemporary overview of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the importance of Reconciliation. It is important to learn about, and to recognize the presence, and contributions of Indigenous Peoples as Canada’s First people because they continue to be vibrant communities. With this presentation, we hope to show what Indigenous People went through during colonization and the recent movement towards reconciliation and the revitalization of their Nations.

But first, in Canada, as a form of reconciliation and recognition, we have a practice of starting our meetings or important events by acknowledging the Indigenous People and the land that they have lived on for thousands of years​. It can be as simple as this:​ I acknowledge that I am on the land of the Anishinaabeg Algonquin People who have lived here since time immemorial and continue to live here, and I thank them for being able to live and work on their territory. It is important to note that depending on where you are in Canada, the land and Indigenous community you acknowledge will be different.

Please note that some of the subjects covered in this presentation may cause an emotional reaction. If you require support, please reach out to someone such as a colleague, your family, a friend, or Health Canada’s 24-hour crisis line.

A map of Canada is shown with a series of dots indicating where the Indigenous communities in Canada are located for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

First, you should know that the term ‘’Indigenous Peoples" describes 3 distinct groups: First Nations, Inuit and Métis, all of whom are recognized in Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution, and sometimes we also use the term First Peoples. These 3 groups differ from one another by their culture, their traditions, their language, and their history.

As you can see, there are many green and white dots on this map: they show the location of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. There are more than 50 different First Nations in Canada and they are located in 630 communities. Each of these communities have their own governance structures, languages, and cultural protocols.

Almost 60% of First Nations live off reserve, in rural or urban areas, which means that 40% of Indigenous people live on reserves. A reserve is government land that has been set aside by the Canadian government for use by First Nations. 2/3 of Inuit live in 51 communities across Canada’s North. In Inuktitut, this is called Inuit Nunangat which means "the place where Inuit live". There are 8 Métis settlements which are located in the Prairie provinces, but many of these Métis live outside of their settlements in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Aside from immigration, the Indigenous population is currently the fastest growing population in Canada. In fact, Indigenous communities continue to grow and the population is much younger than that of the non-Indigenous population. There are two main reasons for this growth: The first is higher birth rates and increasing lifespans; and the second may be because of reconciliation. Indigenous Peoples are no longer afraid of identifying as Indigenous.

An infographic is shown with population statistics for First Nations people, Métis, and Inuit in Canada.

The 2021 Census reported 1.8 million Indigenous People in Canada, which represents about 5% of the total Canadian population. In 2023, the overall population in Canada just reached 40 million, which is mainly because of immigration.

First Nations are the largest Indigenous group in Canada, they represent about 60% of the Indigenous population.​ Inuit account for about 4% and the Métis account for approximately 36% of the Indigenous population

A slide is shown with the title "Indigenous Languages in Canada" above text that reads:
"Algonquian Languages 153,620 Speakers"
"Inuit Languages 40,800 Speakers"
"Athabaskan Languages 19,715 Speakers"
"Siouan Languages 4,595 Speakers"
"Salish Languages 3,670 Speakers"
"Iroquoian Languages 2,065 Speakers"
"Tsimshian Languages 1,890 Speakers"
"Wakashan Languages 935 Speakers"
"Indigenous Languages Not Otherwise Specified 775 Speakers"
"Michif 640 Speakers"
"Haida 280 Speakers"
"Tlingit 165 Speakers"
"Kutenai 145 Speakers".

Over a thousand known languages were spoken by various peoples in North, South, and Central America prior to contact with Europeans. However, because of restrictive colonial policies which caused the transmission of languages from one generation to the next to stop, there are just over more than 70 distinct Indigenous languages spoken in Canada today. These 70 languages are separated into 12 language families. As you can see from the chart, the Algonquian language families have the most speakers.

Unfortunately, all Indigenous languages are considered at risk of disappearing. In fact, it’s predicted that if this trend continues, only Cree, Anishinabemowin, and Inuktitut will survive if nothing is done to stop the decline of the other languages. To help stop this trend, in 2019, the Canadian government adopted the Indigenous Languages Act, which seeks to protect, promote, and revitalize all Indigenous languages​. As well, the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2022 to 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages

It is impossible to relate more than four hundred years of history without sacrificing nuance and detail. So, please consider this the beginning of your learning journey. Learning about Indigenous history will help you have a greater understanding of the realities of Indigenous Peoples and of Canada. For too long, colonial bias has given us an incorrect and incomplete history of our country and of the many incredible contributions of Indigenous Peoples. History books were written by Europeans settlers and they did not contain the view or perspective of Indigenous Peoples.

In this presentation, we hope you will recognize that the history and contemporary realities of Indigenous Peoples are complex and unique. With this in mind, we would like to briefly guide you along different periods or historical milestones:

Since time Immemorial, which is time prior to 1497 [sic.

The Period of Contact : from 1497 [sic to 1814.

A Period of Forced Assimilation : from 1814 to 1969, but still overlaps with the next period.

Activism and Negotiation of Indigenous Peoples : from 1970 to 2015.

And Reconciliation: From 2015 to present time.

Indigenous Peoples know that their ancestors have occupied these lands since time immemorial.​ So, what does that mean? Well, it means that Indigenous Peoples lived on these lands which we now call the Americas for thousands of years, even before they were written records, before the arrival of explorers, settlers, or current new Canadians.​ It also means that Indigenous People have a very deep connection to the land.​

Although there is an archeological debate about when humans first came to North America, all agree that early migration from northeastern Asia, by both land and from across the water, took place somewhere between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago.

A slide is shown with the title "Prior To Colonization" above text that reads:
"North, South and Central America have been occupied by diverse Indigenous Nations for thousands of years."
"Population estimate from 8 million to 12 million."
"There were hundreds of distinct and sophisticated Nations, cultures, languages and economies."

As stated, North, South and Central America have been occupied by diverse Indigenous People for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. First Nations use the term Turtle Island to describe North America. The term Turtle Island comes from Indigenous oral histories.

Prior to European colonization, Indigenous People formed multiple distinct and complex Nations with their own governance structures, economies, cultures, traditional practices, and distinct languages. For example, in most Indigenous Nations, women had a very important role to play, both in the governance of the community and in the economic sphere. Two-Spirited People, that is people who may have identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and other, had a very important cultural and spiritual role, and depending on the nation; might have seen themselves as embodying both the male and female spirit. This changed when Europeans imposed Christianity and their views of women and sexuality on Indigenous peoples.

In the 16th century, Europeans began to arrive in the Eastern regions of Canada, where an estimated 200,000 First Nations and Inuit were living. As Indigenous history is an oral history and not a written one, we strongly encourage you to reach out to Indigenous Peoples to learn more about their history prior to colonization.

Cynthia John: The second period we will look at is what we are calling the Contact period from 1492-1814.

Christopher Columbus is a name that often comes to mind as someone who 'discovered' the Americas in 1492. The coming of Christopher Columbus to Turtle Island would launch a long era of European colonization, with devastating effects on Indigenous Peoples. In time, more and more European settlers came to North America, and the era of colonization began.

A slide is shown with the title "Terra Nullius and the Doctrine of Discovery" above text that reads:
"A land was deemed uninhabited if the population residing there was not Christian and therefore not considered to be human beings."
"Over time, the concept was expanded to include lands not occupied by "civilized" peoples or not being put to "civilized use"".

These explorers had two ideas or concepts which were used against Indigenous Peoples: the concepts of « Terra Nullius » and the Doctrine of Discovery. The concepts of the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius were Christian ideas that claimed that if people were not Christians, they were not human and could not own property, and therefore, the land was empty of humans. This meant that explorers could claim this land for European Kings and Queens.

Keep in mind that Indigenous Peoples did not follow the Christian faith, they had their own traditional practices, and the concept of land ownership was communal and not individual.​ Europeans considered Indigenous Peoples as uncivilized, savages, and less than human​.

Recently, Indigenous Peoples petitioned the Pope to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and in March of 2023, a statement was issued by Pope Francis which finally repudiated the 550-year-old Doctrine of Discovery.

As you can see, from the beginning of contact to today, the most important issue that divided and still divides Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada can be summarized by one single question: Who really owns the land and resources?

When we speak about the 'colonial' history of Canada’, we are referring to when Europeans came to America, claimed the land as their own, and imposed European values and Christian beliefs on Indigenous Peoples while banning Indigenous cultures, values and spiritualities.​ This severely impacted Indigenous communities and their families in a negative way, especially in their way of living​.

A slide is shown with the title "Impacts of Colonialism" above text that reads:
"Higher Rates of Suicide"
"Higher Rates of Children in Care"
"Lower Levels of Education"
"Lower Income"
"Higher Rates of Unemployment"
"Much higher rates of incarceration"
"Higher rates of homelessness".

For example, suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than for non-Indigenous youth, and 10 times higher for Inuit. Indigenous Peoples have a higher rate of homelessness. As well, almost 1/3 of inmates in Canadian prisons are Indigenous even though Indigenous Peoples only make up to 5% of the Canadian population.

With the Treaty of Paris, signed in February of 1763, the colony of New France became a British possession. Indigenous Nations had no input in this land transfer between two foreign Kings. Shortly thereafter, his Majesty King George III signed the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Royal Proclamation served as the Crown’s treaty-making process throughout Canada. It also became the first public recognition of Indigenous Nations’ rights to lands and title. It established the protocols and procedures to the opening of the lands for colonizers, as well as lay the foundation for the creation of the Indian Department who acted as intermediary between First Nations and the Crown.

The Government of Canada recognizes 70 historic treaties signed between 1701 and 1923. These treaties are in 9 provinces and 3 territories, covering nearly 50% of Canada’s land mass.​ Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982 recognizes and affirms the treaty and Aboriginal rights of Indigenous Peoples. This means that the treaties are protected under Canada’s highest law, the Canadian Constitution. When the Historic Treaties were first signed, the Crown regarded them as land sales or surrenders.

Indigenous Peoples view the Treaties as agreements to share the use of the land and its resources, all the while preserving their way of life. For them, treaties would remain evergreen and sacred agreements for "As Long as The Sun Shines, The Grass Grows and the River Flows.". However, what is written in most historic Treaties often only captures one perspective: that of the Crown’s.​
What’s important to remember is that historic treaties constitute a thread of continuity woven through the earliest beginnings of Canada’s history until today.

Following the Contact Period we enter a period where the Canadian government try to eliminate or assimilate Indigenous Peoples. Policies of elimination and assimilation took place for more than 300 years. Through these policies, First-Nations, Inuit and Métis were dispossessed of their resources and pushed out of their traditional lands. Historic Treaties with First Nations and Métis were no longer respected.

All of these policies have had devastating effects on Indigenous Peoples which continue until the present day.​ Let’s talk about some of these important policies.

Many laws and polices affecting First Nations were combined in 1876 to form the Indian Act. This act is aimed at governing all aspects of the lives of First Nations on reserves and registered as "status Indians." The Act defines who is considered an "Indian" and outlines the restrictions that apply to First Nation individuals and communities. It also outlines governmental obligations to First Nations peoples. But more importantly, it grants the federal government extensive control over various aspects of First Nation life, including the management of reserve lands, their governance structure, cultural practices, and personal matters.

The Indian Act is still a contentious piece of legislation that has perpetuated a paternalistic and assimilationist approach towards First Nations Peoples.

The creation of reserves had far-reaching implications on all aspects of First Nations life. The reserve system was a government-sanctioned displacement of First Nations to lands under the control of the Crown. At the stroke of a pen, reserves divided up not only lands but Nations that had existed for thousands of years.

Families, houses, and clans that had hunted and gathered together for generations were abruptly and arbitrarily joined up with other families, disrupting social networks and long-established kinship systems that determined who could hunt, fish, and gather in particular areas. Also, the size of the reserve lands of many First Nations was very small compared to their traditional territories and many were forced to relocate to more isolated regions in order to survive. That isolation meant that important services such as access to water, sewers, electricity and housing have all failed to meet standards that most Canadians take for granted.

Because management of reserve lands is retained by the Crown, First Nations have been unable to utilize their land and resources to secure economic development or fund social welfare.

Ryan Michael Dougherty: Canada’s Indian Residential School system will forever remain one of the country’s most shameful legacies. Settlers were frustrated with what they called the Indian problem. The expected Indigenous Peoples to give up their ways of life and embrace European languages and culture but this was not happening. They thought that the solution was to take Indigenous children from their parents and educate them in government-sponsored schools run by churches so that the pull of family, tradition, and custom would not affect their assimilation.

Approximately 150,000 children attended residential schools and 200,000 attended Indian day schools. An estimated 6,000 children died in these schools, many other children were abused and neglected. In 1920, the Indian Act made attendance at Indian Residential Schools compulsory for Treaty-status children between the ages of 7 and 15. In total, over 130 residential schools and 700 hundreds day schools operated in Canada between 1831 and 1996.

In the 1960s and into the 1980s, as Residential and Day Schools were closing, more than 20,000 Indigenous children were removed from their homes by the child welfare system and adopted by non-Indigenous families in Canada, the United States, and even in Europe. This is known as the "Sixties Scoop".

These adoptions were done without the consent, or sometimes even knowledge of the children’s parents. These children lost their birth names, cultural identity, language and their Indian status​. As with Residential and Day Schools, some suffered sexual, physical, and mental abuse at the hands of their adoptive or foster families.

The federal government has acknowledged its role in the 60’s Scoop and has committed to working with Indigenous Peoples to ensure that Indigenous children are no longer taken out of the communities.

Europeans also brought with them diseases to which Indigenous Peoples did not have immunity. For example, in the North, Inuit were hard-hit by tuberculosis.​ Cases of tuberculosis were first reported in 1850 and they are still ongoing today. By the mid-1940s and well into the 1960s, the tuberculosis epidemic in the Arctic affected 25% of Inuit population.​

During these decades, infected Inuit were sent to the South for treatment, sometimes for several years, without their consent or the consent of their families. As many of them did not speak English or French, going South was a tremendous cultural and emotional shock. Also, the lack of family support isolated them and made them vulnerable to abuse and neglect by the medical system. Many Inuit never returned home, and in some cases, relatives were not made aware of what happened to them, if they were still alive or not, or where they were buried.

In the early 1950s, the federal government moved several Inuit families from Inukjuak, in northern Quebec to Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island and Resolute on Cornwallis Island in Nunavut, over 2,000 kilometers away. They were promised better living and hunting opportunities in new communities in the High Arctic.

The federal government’s official explanation was that the families had volunteered for the program.​ Inuit had a different view. They reported that the relocations had been forced and that the program’s aim was to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.​ Inuit were assured plentiful wildlife, but soon discovered that they had been misled, and endured extreme hardships as life in these remote lands was extremely precarious. Desperation set in when the families realized that they could not return to Inukjuak ​as they did not have the funds to finance their own return and there was no government support to help them.

The Inuit High Arctic relocations are often referred to as a "dark chapter" in Canadian history, and an example of how the federal government forced changes that affected, and continue to affect, Inuit.

Until 1977, colonizers referred to Inuit as Eskimos which was considered a derogatory term. The term Inuit is part of the Inuktut language, and it means ‘’people’’.

From 1941 to 1978, because government officials could not pronounce Inuit names, they issued ‘’Eskimo Identification Discs’’ to identify Inuit. Each Inuk, which is the word for a single Inuit person, was given a small leather or pressed fibre disc with a number on it and created a registry, or a list, of Inuit that replaced their names with identification numbers. This is referred to as their disc number and can be seen in this slide.​ These disc numbers were required for government interaction such as medical services, education, obtaining food and supplies.​

The system was abandoned in the 1970s as it was viewed as dehumanizing and offensive.
In the 1950s until the 1970s, tens of thousands of Inuit sled dogs across the Eastern Arctic were killed, primarily by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In the 1920s, between 10,000 and 20,000 Canadian Inuit dogs were estimated to live in Northern Canada. By 1963, there was only one "Canadian Eskimo dog" left and the breed was declared extinct.

The dog killings were devastating for Inuit. Without dogs they could not travel to hunt and fish and had to abandon winter homes, traplines, hunting grounds, and ice fishing spots. For the first time in their history, Inuit were cut off from the land and confined to communities year-round.​

In 2019, the Canadian government apologized to Inuit in the Eastern Arctic for the dog slaughter and committed to funding an Inuit sled dog revitalization program.

In Canada, Métis refers to a specific Indigenous People who can trace their origins to the fur trade era in the 18th and 19th centuries. When European fur traders and explorers established relationships with Indigenous women, these unions resulted in the creation of a new Nation known as the Métis.

On this slide, you see the Métis flag which features a white infinity sign on a blue background. The infinity symbol represents the mixing of two distinct cultures, European and First Nations, to create a unique and distinct culture, that of the Métis.

The Métis developed a distinct way of life, language, and traditions which combined Indigenous and European practices, and traditions. Despite their significant contributions to the development of Canada, the Métis have faced a long history of oppression and marginalization.

In the late 1800s, as Canada expanded westward, the Métis were caught in the conflicts between Indigenous Peoples, European settlers, and the Canadian government.

One of the most notable events in Métis history is the Red River Resistance of 1869 to 1870, led by Métis leader Louis Riel. The resistance emerged in response to the Canadian government's attempts to assert control over the Northwest Territories, or Rupert’s Land, without consulting or addressing the rights of the Métis or First Nations.

Although the resistance resulted in the creation of the province of Manitoba, and recognized Métis land rights, Louis Riel, considered as a hero by the Métis, was hanged for treason.
The recognition and protection of Métis rights remained inconsistent over the years. The Métis were often displaced from their traditional lands as Canada implemented policies favoring European settlement and resource extraction.

The government's failure to address land claims and provide adequate support resulted in socio-economic challenges and poverty for many Métis communities. The Métis also faced cultural oppression and discrimination. Their distinct identity and rights were frequently overlooked or denied, leading to the erosion of their language, traditions, and way of life. Discrimination in education, employment, and other areas further contributed to their marginalization.

In recent decades, there have been efforts to address historical injustices and improve conditions for the Métis. Land claim agreements have been established in various regions, granting the Métis greater autonomy and self-governance.

The history of the Métis in Canada is a story of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. Their struggle for recognition, rights, and cultural preservation continues to this day, as they work towards building a more inclusive and equitable society for future generations.

Nathalie Gagnon: The 1970s noted the emergence of several National Indigenous organizations.​ While there had been advocacy work done prior to the 1970, it was during this time that National Indigenous Organizations emerged to create a voice for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

The Assembly of First Nations was created in the late 1970. The AFN is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective goals of First Nations communities across Canada on national or international matters​. The Inuit Tapirit Kanatami was founded in February 1971 by seven Inuit community leaders who agreed that forming a national Inuit organization was necessary to express concerns in a united way. ​ITK represents four distinct Inuit land claim beneficiaries from Inuit Nunangat. Finally, the Métis National Council was founded in 1983 as a representative body of the Métis people​ in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario.

There are also other Indigenous organizations, such as the Native Women Association of Canada and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, who also advocate on behalf of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

Canada’s constitution was repatriated in 1982 and Section 35, which speaks to recognizing and protecting Aboriginal and treaty rights and the inherent right to Indigenous self-government, was added. However, in many cases, the Crown still acted as if Aboriginal and treaty rights were extinguished in Canada. Because of this position, Indigenous Peoples had to prove, through the courts, that they had rights. This led to long and costly court processes. It also meant that policy surrounding how Section 35 would be implemented was made by the courts and not by the Government with the collaboration of Indigenous Peoples.

To this day, one important question still remains: How will Section 35 be implemented?

Indigenous Peoples petitioned the Canadian government to recognize their Aboriginal and treaty rights and a series of court decisions eventually recognized ongoing and existing Aboriginal and treaty rights in many parts of Canada. Since 1973 to today, Canada and Indigenous Nations have signed 26 new land claims or modern treaties and 5 self-government agreements.

Modern treaties are nation-to-nation, legally protected relationships between Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian government. They enable Indigenous Peoples to rebuild their nations and they are intended to improve the social, cultural, political, and economic well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Where treaties are not yet signed, ongoing negotiations are taking place.

Self-government agreements set out authorities that the Indigenous Nation has in respect to their territory, such as governance, social and economic development, education, health, land management, and much more. Self-government agreements vary from group to group, depending on their unique needs and priorities and their vision of self-determination.

The Canadian Government affirms that both forms of treaties, historic and modern, are central to the future relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Government.

A slide is shown with the text: "In 1988, George Erasmus, head of the Assembly of First Nations warned the Canadian government that ignoring the rights and land claims of the Indigenous People could lead to violence. "We want you to know," he said "that you are dealing with fire. We say, Canada, deal with us today because our militant leaders are already born. We cannot promise that you are going to like the kind of violent political action we can just about guarantee the next generation is going to bring to our reserves.""

In 1988, George Erasmus, who is head of the Assembly of First Nations, warned the Canadian government that if it continued to ignore the rights and land claims of Indigenous Peoples this could lead to violent uprisings. Kanesatake is an example of a contemporary event that happened because of an unresolved land claim.

The Kanesatake Resistance, also known as the Oka Crisis, was a 78-day standoff in the summer of 1990 between Kanesatake Mohawk protesters, the Quebec provincial police, the RCMP, and the Canadian Army. ​It took place in the community of Kanesatake and the Town of Oka, on the north shore of Montreal. The resistance was sparked by the proposed expansion of a golf course and the development of townhouses on unresolved disputed land that included a sacred burial ground.

Following the Kanesatake Resistance, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was established as a response by the Canadian government. The mandate of the commission was to study the relationship between Indigenous peoples, the Government of Canada and Canadian society. The main conclusion of the report was the need for a complete restructuring of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Recommendations including the proposal for a new set of principles for establishing a renewed relationship. This new relationship would acknowledge and respect Indigenous cultures and values, the historical origins of Indigenous nationhood, and the inherent right to self-determination. Implementing many of the recommendations in the Royal Commission would have required constitutional changes, however, the recommendations went unanswered.

So, what does reconciliation mean in the Canadian context? It means reconciling the rights of Indigenous Nations with the aspirations of all Canadians. For this, truth must be told and everyone must come together to determine what kind of Canada we aspire to. For reconciliation to happen, Indigenous Nations and Canada must decide how to implement Section 35 of the Constitution Act, together.

A slide is shown with a quote from Honourable Murray Sinclair that reads: "Education has gotten us into this mess – the use of education at least in terms of residential schools – and education will get us out."

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the TRC, started its work in 2008 as a result of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The Commission’s work focused national attention on the devastation that the Residential School system brought to Indigenous Peoples. The TRC performed many tasks. It created a national research centre. It collected documents from churches and government. It held events across the country and heard testimony from more than 6,000 residential school survivors and their loved ones, and it did research about residential schools.

The TRC’s final report summarized the tragic experiences of the survivors and called the residential school system a "cultural genocide." The report includes 94 Calls-to-Action to help restore the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The TRC stated that in order for reconciliation to happen in Canada, "there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour."

A slide is shown with the title: "Calls to Action # 93 and 94" above text that reads:
"93. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools."
"94. We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen."

There are two Calls for Action that directly refer to new Canadians, Calls to Actions #93 and #94. Call to Action #93 refers to the Government of Canada collaborating with national Indigenous organizations on information provided to new Canadians on its history so that a true account of Canada can be understood.​ The second Call to Action refers to the Oath of Citizenship, a final step to becoming a Canadian citizen, and the promise to uphold the Treaties. We encourage you to read these Calls to Action along with the other 91. You can find the TRC Report online at the National Truth and Reconciliation website.

The tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) has been a longstanding crisis that is still disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities. Indigenous Women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada​.

In December of 2015, the federal government announced the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) as a key government initiative to end the disproportionally high levels of violence against them. Four years later, in 2019, the commissioners of the National Inquiry released their final report, entitled Reclaiming Power and Place. ​The report documented the stories of over 2,300 family members, survivors of violence, experts, and knowledge keepers, who shared their stories during the cross-country public hearing and evidence gathering. The report presented 231 distinct Calls to Justice, for governments, institutions, social services providers, industry, and all Canadians.

Activists as well as the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls continue to persevere against the negative and misogynistic attitudes and stereotypes against women, while also seeking justice, accountability, reconciliation, and better public education.

Moving towards reconciliation means acknowledging the past, and as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated, in order for reconciliation to happen in Canada, "there has to be atonement for the causes." In this spirit, the government of Canada has apologized for certain important events.

In 1998, Canada apologized to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples for decades of mistreatment and wrongdoings. The government also said it wanted to begin a new era of a partnership as a response to the recommendations of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. On June 25, 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered an apology in Parliament to residential school survivors and all Indigenous Peoples.

In March of 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an apology to Inuit for the federal government's management of tuberculosis in the Arctic. In August of 2019, the Canadian government apologized for the killing of thousands of sled dogs and committed to funding an Inuit sled dog revitalization program. Finally, in the same year, the Government of Canada apologized for the High Arctic and Nunavut relocation that took place during the 1950s.

If you wish to know more about Canada’s colonial history, we encourage you to download the app Reconciliation: A Starting Point created by the Canada School of Public Service. This app is a reference tool for learning about First Nations, Inuit and Métis. It includes key historical events and examples of reconciliation initiatives. You will learn why reconciliation matters and what you need to know and do to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Again, we acknowledge that some subjects covered in this presentation may have caused emotional reaction. If you require support, we encourage you to please reach out to someone, such as a colleague, your family, a friend, or Health Canada's 24-hour crisis line.

We hope you will all be part of this journey towards reconciliation and that you’ll be curious to learn more and walk side by side, as allies, with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Thank You – Chi Miigwech – Wela’lin.
Cynthia John: Chi Miigwech – Thank you.
Ryan Michael Dougherty: Thank you – Teniki.
Jennifer Wallenius: Thank you – Chi Miigwech – Marsi.

Text appears onscreen that reads "Thank You - Miigwech – Nakurmik - Marsi -Woliwon - Tiawenhk - ᖁᐊᓇᖅᑯᑎᑦ- Hei Hei - Tshinaskumitin - Ekosani -kinanâskomitin Quanaqqutit".

A slide is shown with text that reads:
"On September 30, Pay Tribute to the Thousands of Indigenous Residential School Survivors!"
"Since 2021, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation."
"The day honours survivors of residential schools and the children who never returned home, as well as their families and communities."
"Public commemoration of the painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process."
"Participate by Wearing Orange"
"Orange Shirt Day is a day to recognize the intergenerational impacts on residential schools."​
"It is also a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.​"
"Across the country, you can find activities open to the public on September 30th."

Text appears onscreen that reads "Music courtesy of ​Lake Superior Women Drummers from ​Red Rock First Nation in Ontario​ "Spirit Bear Song"".
The CSPS logo appears onscreen.
The Government of Canada logo appears onscreen.

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