The moment the plane touched down in Winnipeg I knew this was not going to be just any other gathering. I went directly to the hotel, changed my clothes, and grabbed a cab to the Forks.
Before meeting up with everyone I walked around the field. I was amazed at all the people, it wasn’t like any of the other assemblies I had attended over the years, not like an AFN annual general meeting, it surely wasn’t the mining convention they call PDAC it was different and you knew it immediately.
I remember thinking at one point there are a lot of important people here, TRC Commissioners, Politicians, Chiefs, Councilors, Directors and Executive Officers for almost every NGO you could think of but it wasn’t until I witnessed Senator Sinclair interact with an Indigenous woman did, I know who the important people really were. He approached a lady that was sitting on the ground and asked her how she was. The important people were the survivors who gathered to share their stories.
Senator Sinclair stood over the lady in silence, he is a tall and intimidating man. I was not sure if he was being ignored or the lady did not hear him but he just stood there. At any moment I expected him to continue on his walk around the field but no he just stood there.
The next minutes seemed like hours, he was giving her the opportunity to find her words and the courage to share her story, he was giving her the respect she deserved!
She began to tell her story.
The recent events in Kamloops are shocking to most Canadians but to those who have been a part of the journey towards reconciliation, it is not. The findings confirm what Indigenous leaders and advocates have been saying for a long time. Former National Chief Fontaine recently stated in a CBC interview what hurts is that they were not listened to and were not believed. The stories and sharing of tragic events that took place during the residential school times have been once again validated.
At the Forks my ears heard for the first time and my heart opened. I heard in their voices the sorrow, I could feel their pain and wanted to make a difference.
The Indigenous people contribute a great deal to Canada and we gather to celebrate their contribution on June 21st, National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. As Canadians we have to find a way to acknowledge, accept and reconcile so that we as a Nation can move forward. If we do not find a way then there will be darker days ahead.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions report calls on all Canadians to participate. It’s not just governments, its everyone . In all our capacities we must come together in a concerted effort to plan a way forward.
Doing our Part:
To do my part I have been working on Its Time for Change. A national inclusion and engagement platform that creates an environment for economic success. A pan Canadian forum where Indigenous economic capacity and collaboration can happen. I believe that too often we are caught up treating the symptoms and seldom treat the root causes of the issues we must deal with. Income for all Canadians is the single most important social determinant of health and this is what Its Time for Change has chosen to address.
At ITFC we are doing our part. To see how we are helping Indigenous business click here!
What the TRC was all about!
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement called for a commission to inform Canadians on what really happened to Indigenous peoples from as far back as 1870 to as recently as 1996. The “settlement” called for the commission to be established to contribute to the truth, healing and reconciliation.
There were over 130 residential schools and over 150,000 Indigenous children that were placed there often without parental consent. We encourage our readers to visit the TRC web presence at www.trc.ca to learn much more about their task and the final report of their findings.
There will be more!
Kamloops is the beginning but certainly not the end. There were 130 residential schools! We must discover the truth and give the unknown an identity and the respect they deserve. We must do what is necessary so that families can mourn and grieve for those lost so that we can move forward.
We can all do our part in reconciliation. It’s about building relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. Take the time to learn what has happened and try to understand the impact this has had on generations.
Its Time for change!