Tomorrow morning the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into aboriginal abuse in the residential school system will hold its first meeting in Ottawa. The Commission means Canada will take its historical place alongside such tarnished regimes as South Africa, Chile, El Salvador and Sierre Leone.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is destined to sit for five years, is budgeted to cost $60 million dollars and is under the chairmanship of Justice Harry LaForme, the first aboriginal person to sit on any appelate court in Canada.

Justice LaForme sees the Commission as the best chance for significant progress in mending the deteriorating relationship between natives and the rest of Canada, not just over the harm and heartbreak of residential schools but on the daily flashpoints, land claims and blockades.

A former United Church minister is sceptical about the Commission: « The people I work with are not asking about reconciliation. They are asking: When are we going to get our day in court. When are the people responsible [for the damage in residential schools] going to be brought to justice? And from the looks of it, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not set up to do that? »

Do you agree that the rest of the world sees Canada’s treatment of the natives peoples as shameful?

Do you think the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can help mend the situation?



  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I hope the Honorable judge will transform his Commission into a healing circle. The next step should be the settlement of all those land claims in less than the twenty years it now takes. When an adolescent, I was almost kicked of school for advocating that we should give the land back to the aboriginals, pay for the damages done to it and go back where our ancestors came from. Of course in cases such as mine where that would have been could have been a problem: Greece or France?
    On that note, I say good by till 9th June. The wife and I are off to the Grand Canyon tonight.

  2. 2
    dez Says:

    This seems to be Canada’s answer to every issue: Form a commission, which will hold meetings to discuss it. The first meeting will probably be focussed on deciding when to have the next meeting.

    At the end of 5 years, there will have been a lot of meetings and a lot of discussion about the issue. Nothing will be decided with any certainty, and the issue, like thousands of aboriginal children, will remain buried.

    At least you are talking about it. The US has not even taken that step.

    So, yes. You need the commission. Keep talking about it. It is, quite literally, the least you can do and still be doing something.

    Does the rest of the world think less of Canada for this? That’s not the right question. The rest of the world have their own skeletons in the closet. The question should be, what do the people of Canada think about this problem?

  3. 3

    I would guess, Dez, that too many Canadians just want to sweep the whole native people’s issue under the rug.

    Have a great time in Arizona, Paul. We’ll miss you here.

  4. 4
    Chimera Says:

    « When are the people responsible [for the damage in residential schools] going to be brought to justice? »

    That is the frustrating part of this whole make-work project. It’s set up to address the issues of people on both sides of the injustices who have been dead for years. It does nothing to address issues in any real sense for people who are living today. And it’s going to avoid addressing issues for five whole years! Cost to the taxpayers for deliberately doing nothing for five years: $60,000,000.00!

    Not bad for government work.

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    Paul, have a wonderful vacation. See ya when ya get back.

  6. 6
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    It is my view , compassion and justice mean the same thing. You cannot be compassionate unless your are just. And you cannot be just unless you are compassionate. I have never been to a healing circle, and I am sure similar ideas are mentioned.

    Commissions and studies are a lot of crap. We need to forgive each other as we would like to be forgiven ourselves, that includes native people and the white person, we have all done wrong in some way.

    Land claims and blockades are ideas that need to be discussed at the highest level similar to which Obama is talking about.

  7. 7
    granny Says:

    The government seems to want to skip the ‘Truth’ part and go right to ‘Reconciliation’. However, there are still may truths remaining to be learned by Canadians. One poster above referred to ‘children still buried’. Perhaps this is the most significant informations Canadians need: Over 50,000 Indigenous children died or disappeared in Canada’s ‘Indian’ Residential Schools.

    Reconciliation will necessarily mean settling the land rights issues, since this is why the schools were implemented in the first place: To assimilate Indigenous people into white society, destroy their traditional leadership and governance and spirituality, and get them off their land, thus destroying their land rights. Even through 6 generations of this attempted destruction of their culture and inherent rights, Indigenous Peoples remain on the land protecting their land rights with ever strengthening resistance.

    Truth will mean acknowledging not only the fact of the residential schools, but the purpose of the schools: destruction of culture and rights, internationally called « genocide ».

  8. 8


    Indeed reconciliation will not be enough. The Commission will need to get at the Truth of Canada’s shameful history with our native peoples.

    Thanks for your informed comment.

  9. 9
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    This is a huge issue that seemsto be happening in Australia and Canada and I am guessing elsewhere too. We will never be abel to make this right for aboriginal people since it happened.
    We all have to take risponsibility. It is not only in the past. It is still happening. I read and hear in the news that aboriginals do not have the old lifestile anymore, the one that sustained them to find their own food, that made them proud. Their lives were simpel but they were their lifes. They do not have a so called « modern lifestyle. There are no jobs, there is no hope. We really have to work together to make things happen. I would expect aboriginals to take risponsibility for their lives but with support. Helping with giving them what they need, like clean water, sewer systems. And somehow giving them their pride back.
    They have wonderful art, and they are very connected to the earth.
    It must have been extremely insulting that their religion all of a sudden was not good enough anymore.
    If the commission can get at the truth, fine. But I would like to see lots of money spent to better aboriginals quality of life.Now!!

  10. 10
    Ravenredbird Says:

    I agree 100% with Granny…. Where are the children? And who is going to be accountable for denying those suffering from tuberculousis the medicine they needed… and who is going to be responsible for placing sick children in with healthy children? And when are Canadians going to realize when people have been stripped of their culture, language, families and land they may just may need some relief from this trauma. And sadly, most don’t have healthy family members, or counsellors to guide them, so they self-medicate in unhealthy ways.
    And although I appreciate your commending Granny’s comment neilmckenty….it is wrong to use the term « OUR » native peoples as we don’t belong to Canada.. we are First Nations. Nya:weh/Miigwetch/Thank you.

  11. 11


    Indeed you are First Nations. But I should have thought that First Nations have a constitutional connection with Canada. Leaders such as Phil Fontaine continually negotiate with the Federal government.

    You may be interested to know that Prime Minister Harper is preparing to apologize in the House of Commons for the wrongs done to native peoples. If I am not mistaken that will happen on June 11.

  12. 12
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Ravenbird: Since you belong to the First Nations I would like to hear from you how you see what Canada can do that would serve the First Nations best.I have heard about land claims
    and bettering living conditions.
    What can we do about your lost pride and hope? In my book everything takes too long. I would like to cut through the red tape. I am very concerned as to what you say about self medication. I think that too has to do with loss of hope.
    I do apreciate the First Nations and especially their way of life. I have seen pictures of older people. They are so beautiful with wrinkels and all. I can tell they had a hard life.
    I personally am very sorry what the white man (and Woman) has done to you. Somehow I do feel connected with you. The earth is very close to me because I grew up in the country side.

  13. 13
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « But I would like to see lots of money spent to better aboriginals quality of life.Now!! »

    Are you aware just how much money the gov’t gives to the natives?? If you’re thinking billions you’re close. Yes, Billions!

    The problem is the way the money is handed over and not tracked. If the natives could adequately root out the corruption at the TOP they would be in MUCH better shape! How many tribe leaders live the high life with the money meant for the tribe, all while the tribe continues to exist in poverty? The answer to that is TOO MANY!

    They need help – but throwing money at the problem will NOT fix it. It sure hasn’t helped much yet!

  14. 14
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Dear Joe, I agree with you that throwing money at the problem will not solve it. But we do have to find ways to spend money that the First Nations have a livestyle that suits them and tha we are doing something to live up to our obligations after the fact.
    I know it is mainly my heart speaking but all I can do as one person is express is my feelings. I mean not that we should waste more money, I am sure governments are doing a good enough job in that.I am looking for some joint risponsibility where the First Nations tell us how we as Canadians can support them.
    I also agree that corruption at the top has a lot to do with poverty of the others. Just, there must be something that can be done.

  15. 15
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « I also agree that corruption at the top has a lot to do with poverty of the others. Just, there must be something that can be done. »

    Agreed. It’s frustrating to see the native communities still struggling with survival… money isn’t the answer though – wholesale changes in the way THEY run THEIR business is! They really need to get their act together – and with ~some~ help they can get back on track!

  16. 16
    createmo Says:

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  17. 17
    jgsman Says:

    Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a hoax says lawyer Bruce Clark:

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