Now that Justice Sinclair’s Truth and Reconciliation Report has been issued, what next steps should we take to address the painful legacy of the Indian Residential School system? Maeengan Linklater has an idea we should all get behind.
On June 5, he delivered a draft Manitoba Indian Residential Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act to all four political parties at the Manitoba Legislative Building.
The Act would allow for one day to be set aside each year to remember this tragic chapter in Canadian history and to find ways to reconcile and deal with the dark shadow it has cast.
Maeengan was accompanied by his mother, Patricia Ningewance-Nadeau, a residential school survivor, and his son, Aandeg Mian Muldrew, as well as friends and family, and community members. Here is my video report.
Here is the Act that Maeengan and many others want the Manitoba Legislature to adopt:
Manitoba Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act
WHEREAS between the years 1870 and 1996, 150,000 Indian, Metis, and Inuit children in Canada were removed from their families and communities to attend residential schools.
WHEREAS, the ‘Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ (adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948, includes “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group,” and the actions taken to remove children from families and communities and to put them in residential schools meets this definition of a “genocide”.
WHEREAS the goals of the Indian Residential School system were to “remove and isolate children from the influence of their home, families, traditions, and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominate culture”.
WHEREAS the Government of Canada recognized that many of the children experienced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, lived in conditions of neglect, and were forbidden to learn, or practice, their culture, and to speak their language.
WHEREAS on June 11, 2008, the Government of Canada made a Statement of Apology – to former students of Indian Residential Schools to initiate healing and reconciliation between the Aboriginal community and Canada.
WHEREAS efforts have been launched nationally to lead to reconciliation including the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
WHEREAS on June 2, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada recognized the establishment and operation of residential schools was a central element of assimilative policies that can be best described as cultural genocide.
WHEREAS the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.
WHEREAS setting aside one day a year for such a day will provide an opportunity to focus on understanding and reconciliation including to:
a. Continue the healing for those survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities;
b. Reaffirm the safety and protection of Aboriginal children from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse;
c. Reaffirm, recognize, and acknowledge, Aboriginal peoples and governments as self-governing, sovereign, and nation-to-nation, in its relationship with the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba; and,
d. To educate all Manitobans about the lessons of the Indian Residential School system, and its continuing impacts in today’s society.
WHEREAS the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba is committed through legislation and education, to support the revitalization of Aboriginal communities that enable Aboriginal people to reach their full potential, and to bridge efforts of reconciliation of Aboriginal people and the people of Manitoba.
WHEREAS on June 2, we will remember, for we must never forget.
THEREFOR HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative of Manitoba, enacts as follows:
Manitoba Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day
1 In each year, June 2, to be known as Manitoba Day for Understanding and Reconciliation in Relations to the Indian Residential Schools.