The Next Steps That Need To Be Taken
Indigenous people worldwide are groups widely acknowledged to have been impacted by economic and political marginalization. Many countries worldwide, including Peru, Chile, and Guatemala, have used truth and reconciliation commissions (TR) to examine the pattern of marginalization and have established a clear association between political marginalization, racism, economic exclusion, and violence against indigenous people. Canada can borrow from the same leaf. For a successful truth and reconciliation for indigenous people, the country must be honest concerning the real solitudes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and commit to tangible actions to close the gap in awareness, understanding, and relationships. The next steps that need to be taken to ensure fruitful truth and reconciliation for indigenous people include the following: a) Truth and reconciliation must include restructuring the education system to include the correct history of colonialism and atrocities meted against the Aboriginal people; b) reconciliation must openly emphasize on stopping the ongoing injustices against the indigenous, including genocides and disregard of the language and culture of the Aboriginals; c) truth and reconciliation must include equitable distribution of wealth and other resources; ensuring more inclusive and equitable Canada by bridging the gaps in social, economic, and health outcomes existing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
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The first place to ensure successful truth and reconciliation for indigenous people is to restructure the education system to teach correct history about and long-standing structures of settler colonialism in Canada. Justice Murray, Chair of Canadian TRC, noted that education is what brought the mess, the marginalization of Aboriginal people in Canada, therefore, education is a vital element of the reconciliation process (Miles, James 295), helping to teach the history of residential school systems, and the atrocities it subjected the Aboriginals to so that the society does not make the same mistakes. In responding to such a call, social studies and history teachers must critically consider the challenges they are likely to face teaching indigenous and Indian Residential School systems and their position concerning continuing injustices of colonialism witnessed in Canada. The educators must come to terms with the reality by identifying, acknowledging, and accepting how they are implicated in the heritage of early settler colonization in Canada and educator’s position in movements of Indigenous resurgence (Miles, James 296). It is only by acknowledging and accepting the reality that education created the mess that the educators can teach correct history about the residential school systems and Aboriginals so that the country can move forward in better ways. However, researchers have observed fear as the most significant obstacle raining among teachers and teacher candidates, particularly the non-indigenous ones. The educators are willing to do the correct thing but fear the build of cultural appropriation, misinforming, or offending. Many educators passed through educational backgrounds that offered minimal educational content concerning indigenous people’s history and may not have been challenged to think about privilege and power and the intersections of different forms of privileges (Ruecker and Ives 733). Such teachers face the challenge of being called to incorporate indigenous perspectives they did not have the chance to learn themselves, presenting an obvious challenge. Many Canadians are unaware or have little knowledge of the history of Residential Schools (Miles, James 296). That explains the significance of ongoing education and the need to restructure the education system to teach the correct history of indigenous people to the upcoming generation of educators.
A successful reconciliation must ensure an open and honest discussion about the root cause of violence among indigenous communities and acknowledge the existence of ongoing injustices against the indigenous people, including genocides and disregard for the language and culture of the Aboriginals. For so long, the Canadian government and the TRC have failed to address contentious issues, including the root causes of violence and cultural erosion in Indigenous communities, and churning the right path to deal with the country’s history, such as the residential school system its survivors. Besides, there has been a consistency in choosing the path of injustice by the Canadian government whenever it is handling any issue to do with indigenous people, including spending millions of dollars to fight residential school survivors. The Canadian government has spent $3.2 million on courts since 2013, fighting St. Anne’s residential school survivors. This indicates how ruthless the federal government is when dealing with indigenous people who underwent the most horrible crimes ever committed against children in any part of the world (Palmater 2). It also shows the insincerity of rounding reconciliation. Besides, the indigenous people continue to face genocide and suicides, and the government’s reluctance to deal with such forms of injustice against the population. On a single day in April 2016, about eleven members of the indigenous community in the Attawapiskat community, northern Ontario, attempted suicide out of dire hopelessness Canada’s Indigenous people face due to neglect by the government, lack of opportunities, and jobs. The attempts constituted the latest crisis in the community, a crisis where about 101 people in a community of 2000 population attempted to take their lives. The high rates of suicide among the First Nations have been described as genocides and have roots in Canada’s colonial affiliation and racist policies toward the indigenous group, which date back generations (Mullen 2041). The Canadian government has been reluctant to respond to some of the First Nations’ crises. When commenting on the second anniversary of the “National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the heartbreaking reality that Canada has failed Indigenous peoples for generations. However, despite Trudeau’s statement, the National Inquiry took over two years to come up with findings (Palmater 3), indicating the government’s reluctance to address issues affecting indigenous people.
A successful truth and reconciliation must also embrace equitable distribution of wealth and other resources, ensuring a more inclusive and equitable Canada. If the government is genuinely concerned about the indigenous people, it should strive to bridge the gaps in social, economic, and health outcomes existing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people (Sterritt 1). The aftermath of persistent oppression, colonization, and marginalization resulted in many indigenous people losing their identities and culture, alongside intergenerational trauma and multigenerational woe that caused a multitude of social, economic, and political disadvantages among the indigenous people, including poverty (Marsh 2020), and lack of access to economic opportunities and employment. For so long, the indigenous people have suffered unequal distribution of resources, including quality health care and education, and abject poverty. A classic example is the case of the H1N1 flu outbreak when the flu hit Manitoba First Nations. Instead of sending adequate health resources to treat the people, Health Canada sent body bags. The Canadian government has never regarded people in such reserves as humans (Alphonso and Ha, 3). Besides, lack of respect and resources leads to critical education gaps among the Indigenous people as the education system has failed to recognize the diverse culture of the population. Educational attainment is a strong determinant of employment, health, and well-being (Tait, Henry, and Walker, 39). Hence, the lack of proper education for Indigenous people implies a continued disparity in health, well-being, and wealth between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
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Indigenous people in Canada worldwide are groups widely acknowledged to have been impacted by economic and political marginalization. Countries globally, including Canada, have adopted truth and reconciliation processes to address the atrocities against the Indigenous people. However, for the reconciliation to work, the country must be open to addressing the real issues, including building an inclusive education system, stopping injustices, and ensuring equitable distribution of resources. Reconciliation without addressing these fundamental issues is nothing but hypocrisy.
Miles, James. “Teaching History for Truth and Reconciliation: The Challenges and Opportunities of Narrativity, Temporality, and Identity.” McGill Journal of Education, vol. 53, no. 2, Apr. 2018, pp. 294-311. EBSCOhost. search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edb&AN=135613584. Accessed 11 March 2022.