OTTAWA, June 3, 2015 /CNW/ - This week, Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth joined thousands of Aboriginal survivors of the Indian Residential Schools and their families; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); federal, provincial and municipal leaders; First Nations groups; and others to mark the closing of the TRC's landmark work.
The Provincial Advocate's Office offered a Statement of Reconciliation outlining its commitment to being an active partner in the process of healing and reconciliation.
"We must remember that reconciliation lives in the space of the past and present. But truly, it is tied to a future that remembers not only the survival of thousands of children and youth who were sent to Indian Residential Schools but actively demonstrates to current and future generations of Aboriginal, Inuit, Metis children that we will never again allow children to be stolen from their families, communities and nations and be robbed of their culture, language and spiritual connections," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
From 1870-1996, an estimated 150,000 aboriginal children were forcibly taken away from their families and communities and placed in residential schools (funded by the federal government and run by church). Children as young as 4-years-old lived childhoods of tremendous hardship, neglect, racism, abuse and even death in these schools.
Led by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, the TRC was established in 2009 as part of the Indian Residential School Settlement agreement. The Commission's mandate is to document the stories from survivors and their families and to capture the ongoing impacts of the schools; to promote awareness and education for all Canadians about what happened in the Indian Residential Schools; to create a public record of the history of the schools to guide Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships; and to create a report tied to recommendations to Canada.
"The realities of truth and reconciliation now take on their hardest journey: from the hearts and memories of survivors to the hands of Justice Sinclair and the Commission, and now into the heart, soul and consciousness of this country. My Office is committed to embracing our role as a leader in the process of truth telling and working with and on behalf of all Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit children and youth in Ontario. Further, my Office will continually strive to ensure that this province actively engages in a process of healing that is tied to the vision of reconciliation as advanced by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada," said Elman.
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children. The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.
SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
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