On this day— only the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, kama.ai wishes to recognize the good things that have happened over the last 12 months. Firstly, we must acknowledge that the first Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada came only shortly after the announcement that the remains of 215 bodies were discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. In addition, more remains have been reported since then, and more will be discovered and reported as the important work continues to locate and honour the bodies and lives of other children that did not return home.
While these reports of missing children and the history of colonization and residential schools is difficult, if not horrifying, we at kama.ai want to acknowledge that a lot of good has come since the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We wish to acknowledge the following.
- The reports of missing children and unmarked graves have done more than almost anything else to bring awareness to Canadians, and to the world, of the injustices that were inflicted on Indigenous populations in Canada, and elsewhere, during the many years of colonization that occurred prior to, and during the first half of, the 20th century.
- At the Vatican, and later in Canada in the Summer of 2022, Pope Francis apologized for the role that the Catholic Church played in the Canadian Residential School System.
- As of May 17, 2022, the government of Canada delivered $78.3 million to Indigenous communities through Canada’s Residential School Missing Children’s – Community Support Funding program, to support 70 initiatives in research, knowledge gathering, commemoration, memorialization, and fieldwork investigation around the sites of former residential schools.
- The government later added an additional $122 million over the next 3 years, to the Community Support Funding program, to continue the work and otherwise implement Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action 72 through 76 on residential schools.
- On June 8, 2022, Kimberly Murray was appointed by Canada, as Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools.
While none of these things can change history, these events and initiatives do show progressive steps towards building awareness across our great country. Additionally, they continue to ‘reconcile’ all of us, Indigenous and otherwise, with the truth, and with the positive things that are being done, and that still can be done. Ultimately, Reconciliation can allow us to come together as a diversely unique society of people, cooperatively inhabiting the lands originally inhabited by the Indigenous People who lived here for thousands of years before European contact.
As a tribute and honour to the lost lives, and to the good things that are coming in the name of Canadian Indigenous Reconciliation, we would like to refer readers to Reconciliation 215, a poem written and released by Chief Stacey Laforme, of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation on May 28th, 2021. It was later set to music by Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies & Josh Finlayson of Gord Downie’s Secret Path Band.