Why reconciliation is absolutely necessary for Indigenous peoples


It’s been eight years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its report.

YorkRegion.com: originally published on June 8, 2023

In 2015, after six years of hearing direct testimony from residential school survivors, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its Summary Report.

The 94 Calls to Action addressed all sectors of society and yet, almost eight years after the reports were issued and widely reported in the national media, reconciliation has stalled. 

Consider the current reality compared to that which existed in June 2015. Bear in mind that Indigenous people represent five per cent of the overall population in Canada, according to the 2021 census.

  • The number of Indigenous children in the child welfare system nationally has increased to 53.8 per cent; 7.7 per cent of the 0-14 population are Indigenous.
  • The number of Indigenous people in jail has increased to 32 per cent as of 2021 from 24 per cent in 2015.
  • The number of incarcerated Indigenous women has increased to 50 per cent in 2022; 96 per cent of women placed in Isolation cells in women’s prisons are Indigenous.
  • Indigenous youth account for half of youth admissions into custody in 2020/2021 while representing about eight per cent of the youth population.
  • Indigenous women are 400 per cent more likely to go missing than other Canadians; 25 per cent of all female homicide victims are Indigenous while comprising only four per cent of the female population. Seventy-six per cent of young female homicide victims in the north are Indigenous.
  • Nunavut has the highest hospitalization rates for RSV infections in the world and yet Inuit babies are denied access to Palivizumab, a drug routinely given to at-risk infants in the south.
  • Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are opposed to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which constitutes “the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world”.
  • Ten provinces and territories are currently fighting Indigenous peoples in courts on everything from Indigenous child welfare, language, environment, and treaties and land claims.
  • The UN Human Development Index in 2018 ranked Canada 12th globally; First Nations living on reserve ranked 78th. 

In many ways, the continued growth of Indigenous youth apprehended by the Child Welfare system and the over-incarceration of Indigenous youth and adults reflects a disturbing reality that equates to modern-day residential schools. 

The end result is the same tragic outcome — generations of Indigenous young people are being deprived of their connections to Indigenous family, culture, language and ways of being.

Is Indigenous reconciliation really necessary?

Absolutely.

Douglas Sinclair is a member of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and is the publisher of Indigenous Watchdog. For more information, visit indigenouswatchdog.org

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