The release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can and should be a watershed moment in Canada’s history. It’s up to all governments to not let this opportunity for change pass.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report paints a fuller picture than we’ve seen before of the Cultural Genocide of generations of First Nations people. The revelation that there were graveyards instead of playgrounds alongside residential schools, and that the death of a child in a residential school was more likely than the death of a solider in the Second World War is haunting. The life-long indelible impact of abuse on survivors is undeniable.
It’s time to move from “apology to action,” as is called for in the report. I believe the most powerful tool we have in moving forward is education. Today, the per-student funding for a child attending a First Nations school is a fraction of the per-student funding in a provincial school. That means a First Nations child starting school at the same time as my daughter and just miles away won’t have equal resources in the classroom, nor equitable curricula, equal access to music education, sports opportunities, career guidance or even a school playground. Because of the shocking disparity between the First Nations and non-First Nations education systems, there is a terrible but unsurprising disparity in graduation rates and achievement. The provincial government needs to do its part, and the federal government needs to fulfill its responsibility to provide high quality, equitable education to all children.
Thank you to the courageous people who contributed to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to the commissioners. I will be reviewing the 94 recommendations, and I encourage the Government of Saskatchewan to do the same.