OTTAWA, May 31, 2016 /CNW/ - In advance of the one year anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) Calls to Action and in response to yesterday's apology and commitment to reconciliation by the Ontario government, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls on all provinces and territories to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to set real benchmarks and timelines for change.
"We've come a long way since last June," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "With commitment from the federal government to address the TRC's calls to action and yesterday's expression by the Ontario government, I'm urging all provinces and territories to step up and show how they will act for change. With government support and First Nations ready for change, we have an opportunity to close the gap and make reconciliation real for all of Canada. We cannot miss this opportunity!"
On June 2, 2015 the TRC released 94 "calls to action" on priorities for action, including child welfare, justice, education and health. The full final report was released December 15, 2015 and completed the work of the TRC which was mandated in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement of 2007. The findings followed six years of hearing testimony from more than 7,000 former residential school students from across the country.
"As we approach the first anniversary of the release of the TRC's calls to action, we must agree that it is time to put plans into action," said AFN Regional Chief Morley Googoo who leads national work on truth and reconciliation. "We want to see timelines and benchmarks for change. We recognize the strong leadership and advocacy of First Nations in Ontario for ensuring the provincial government is moving on reconciliation. We must keep up this momentum for change."
At the release of its final report last December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that true reconciliation goes beyond the scope of the TRC's Calls to Action and pledged to work with First Nations, Indigenous leaders, provinces and territories and all key parties to design a national engagement strategy for developing and implementing a national reconciliation framework, informed by the TRC's recommendations.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne yesterday offered the province's first response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released partially last June and fully in December. AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, among other regional Indigenous leaders and residential schools survivors, was in attendance in the Ontario legislature to hear Ontario's apology and commitments to change.
In a statement read in the legislature yesterday, Regional Chief Day spoke to the need for a shared journey toward the restoration of rights and the reparation of the lives of First Nations people damaged by Indian Residential Schools.
"We are reminded of a system meant to kill the Indian in the child," said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day in the Ontario legislature yesterday morning. "We will walk together on a path toward building happy, healthy First Nation communities. And with the full involvement and inclusion of Indian Residential School survivors in all aspects of moving forward, for it is they who have carried the full burden and have experienced the darkness of this history. They must never again feel left out, alone, or abandoned – this process and these investments belong to them."
The AFN is a party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that led to the creation of the TRC. The federal government has committed to working with First Nations and Indigenous peoples to implement the Calls to Action.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 401, 613-314-8157 or [email protected]; Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 382, 613-292-0857 or [email protected]