Last Wednesday evening, I tuned in to a live stream of a lecture given by The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair who is the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The following bio was taken from the TRC website.
He was such a powerful speaker and said a lot of things I think every educator and resident of Canada needs to hear. He talked about the impact of residential schools, and he described them not as educational institutions, but rather welfare systems. The more I think about what I already know, the more sense this makes. They (we?) didn’t want to educate these kids to their full potential, they wanted to get rid of the “problem”. Every child was abused in some way. I’m going to say that again so it sinks in. Every CHILD was abused in some way.
Justice Sinclair also talked about the hiding of aboriginal identity from others, as well as themselves. I don’t think anybody can argue that identity is unimportant. If you have to hide your identity, what does that leave you? I’m not going to answer that but I would invite you to think on it.
I don’t feel like I can do justice to this talk. It was powerful, inspiring and an eye-opener. However, I will briefly touch on his call for us. He mentioned we need to understand each other and that this is not a one-sided conversation. Yet we also need to be realistic and that we can’t carry around this anger forever, but we must never forget, which I think is the essence of the TRC and what Justice Sinclair was speaking too. He declared that we have a lot of work to do (which I don’t think anybody can deny), and that we need to make a commitment to reconciliation. I would encourage you to take a look at the TRC, and to make your own commitment to reconciliation. I would also ask though, what does your commitment to reconciliation look like?