I think some people need to understand that when it comes to tribe/nation specific issues, those tribal members have the right of way with opinions. If you’re not a part of that tribe/nation you should really keep your mouth shut and listen.
Guess I just had to write about it some more and get it out of my system.
Thanks apihtawikosisan for your critical eye/ear and taking the time to respond to this. I expect more from APTN too but this is also a reminder for myself to read/listen to everything in the media with more scrutiny, even when it is a trusted media source.
I don’t want to take away from any of the good work the TRC has done, they certainly have done a lot of it and as I posted about before, I am a fan of Paulette Regan’s work, Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada. A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to hear Paulette speak about her work at UBC and I was glad for the opportunity, because something wasn’t sitting right for me. In December I wrote a paper privileging Regan’s work on the importance of education for successful reconciliation. After I researched and wrote the paragraph on Aboriginal education, I became somewhat distraught. How can we even begin to talk about reconciliation (in terms of residential schools) with the same state that continues to underfund Aboriginal education, thereby maintaining educational apartheid in Canada? So at UBC, I asked Regan exactly that. Her answer was that, “We can’t. We mustn’t.” She then continued to frame her work as a sort-of “how-to” for settler peoples in Canada to learn this country’s true history and become valuable allies to Indigenous peoples. That made sense to me, and I got it. But right now, I can’t get my head around reconciliation. I hate to be negative but I just don’t think it is an attainable goal when the same system we are supposed to be reconciling with (education) continues to oppress us. I have already made a personal vow to work toward effecting radical change, and I am optimistic that one day we, the grassroots, will succeed in this, but right now it just doesn’t make sense to me to talk ‘reconciliation’. Seems to me that as far as the conservative government is concerned, reconciliation is a self-serving political trend (at best) or a just a court-ordered mandate (at worst).
On a happy note, I think it is worth mentioning that the visible majority of the packed lecture hall listening to Regan talk was non-Native.
At one point I did a bunch of research into Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, what they were for, how they were used, how they started. The idea of truth AS reconciliation is an important one, but it doesn’t end there.
TRC started in Latin America as a way of dealing with unacknowledged state-wide abuses which up until that point had been wholly denied. Just getting a formal record of these events was a huge deal and one that sparked a lot of furor and conflict and yes, change. I don’t think that in any country where there has been a TRC, that it can really be claimed there has been achieved ‘reconciliation’. Not yet.
So when I think about the TRC here in Canada, all I expect is that formal history, that recognition. Just getting that record compiled is hard enough. People hide documents, funding is pulled, suspicion causes people to refuse to participate, etc. For me, the starting point is the record and we don’t really have it yet. We don’t know how many children died, or where they were buried. We don’t quite have all the evidence we should have access to.
I don’t expect the TRC to do more than that, because that alone is a huge undertaking. After that? Generations of work. My children’s children will still be trying to undo the damage, and we’d be foolish to believe otherwise.
But yeah, I’m miffed with APTN. I expected more from them, this was very National Post-esque.