Residential schools began in the 1870s, where they were government-funded, church-run institutions that Aboriginal children were forcibly sent to- much against their parents’ wishes. With over 130 schools operating, these institutions took on the educational, cultural and spiritual growth of Aboriginal children to reach the goal of eradicating Aboriginal language, culture and spirituality from generations of Canadians. The last school closed down as late as 1996.
More than 150 000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were placed in residential schools and went through traumatic experiences of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. They were also violently prevented from speaking their language, living their cultural identities and engaging in their traditions and spirituality. Countless children died while in the custody of residential schools, and the survivors and their families continue to experience the ongoing and intergenerational effects to this day.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was created and given the mandate to find the truth of what took place in the residential schools and create recommendations for First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Canadian peoples to move towards reconciliation. In June 2015, the TRC published a report of their findings and subsequent recommendations. A number of recommendations were very similar to issues that the Aboriginal Students Constituency Group have included in campaigns of the Federation, such as:
7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate education and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians;
10. We call upon the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples;
11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First nations students seeking a post-secondary education;
16. We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal Language;
41. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls. The inquiry’s mandate would include:
i. Investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.
ii. Links to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools;
43. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation; and
62. ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.”
To learn more about the full history, mandate and official report of the TRC: trc.ca
At the August 2015 Annual General Meeting, member local delegates of the Federation’s Ontario component voted to endorse the recommendations of the TRC and committed to educating their respective membership on Canada’s history of colonialism along with the TRC recommendations towards reconciliation. Keep checking this page in order to stay up to date on student efforts to support the TRC recommendations!