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This article was published 20/8/2018 (480 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than three years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada unveiled its 94 calls to action, it’s unclear how much progress has been made by the Manitoba government when it comes to implementing them, nor when an official update can be expected.
The province’s annual progress report, expected in June and legislated under the Path to Reconciliation Act from 2016, is late.
In 2015, after in-depth study of the impact of residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada laid out 94 calls to action addressed to various levels of government and segments of society to improve relationships with Indigenous peoples. Of those 94 calls, 29 involve work by provincial or territorial governments.
In 2015, after in-depth study of the impact of residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada laid out 94 calls to action addressed to various levels of government and segments of society to improve relationships with Indigenous peoples. \Of those 94 calls, 29 involve work by provincial or territorial governments:
1. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by:
i. Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations.
ii. Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so, and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside.
iii. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.
iv. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.
v. Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.
2. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prepare and publish annual reports on the number of Aboriginal children (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) who are in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children, as well as the reasons for apprehension, the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies, and the effectiveness of various interventions.
3. We call upon all levels of government to fully implement Jordan’s Principle.
5. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Aboriginal families.
12. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.
18. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the treaties.
23. We call upon all levels of government to:
i. Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field.
ii. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities.
iii. Provide cultural competency training for all health-care professionals.
26. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to review and amend their respective statutes of limitations to ensure that they conform to the principle that governments and other entities cannot rely on limitation defences to defend legal actions of historical abuse brought by Aboriginal people.
30. We call upon federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to eliminating the over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so.
31. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.
33. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner
34. We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), including:
i. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
ii. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.
iv. Adopting appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety.
36. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused
38. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to eliminating the over-representation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade.
40. We call on all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms.
42. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012.
43. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
47. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.
52. We call upon the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, and the courts to adopt the following legal principles:
i. Aboriginal title claims are accepted once the Aboriginal claimant has established occupation over a particular territory at a particular point in time.
ii. Once Aboriginal title has been established, the burden of proving any limitation on any rights arising from the existence of that title shifts to the party asserting such a limitation.
55. We call upon all levels of government to provide annual reports or any current data requested by the National Council for Reconciliation so that it can report on the progress towards reconciliation. The reports or data would include, but not be limited to:
i. The number of Aboriginal children — including Métis and Inuit children — in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children, the reasons for apprehension, and the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies.
ii. Comparative funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves.
iii. The educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.
iv. Progress on closing the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in a number of health indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.
v. Progress on eliminating the over-representation of Aboriginal children in youth custody over the next decade.
vi. Progress on reducing the rate of criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization and other crimes.
vii. Progress on reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the justice and correctional systems
57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:
i. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.
iii. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.
iv. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education
64. We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders
71. We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
75. We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.
77. We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
82. We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the settlement agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, residential schools monument in each capital city to honour survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities
87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history
88. We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the Games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.
-- source: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
A government spokesperson said Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations Eileen Clarke would not be able to comment on the province’s TRC progress while the report is being finalized. The report still needs to be tabled in the house as well, which could happen by Oct. 3 at the earliest, when the fall sitting resumes.
"Guiding our government efforts towards reconciliation are the principles of respect, engagement, understanding and action. Manitoba Indigenous and Northern Relations is working collaboratively and consulting with Indigenous peoples and other organizations to produce an annual report to monitor the government’s progress towards reconciliation," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"Until the report is finalized and tabled in the house, it would be inappropriate to comment. We will comment in due course."
This year’s report will focus on the themes of the TRC’s calls to action, which seek to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, according to background information provided.
At least 29 calls to action are directly addressed to provincial and territorial governments, including a call to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care (No. 1) and another to provide civil servants with education on the history of Aboriginal peoples (No. 57).
Ry Moran, director of the Winnipeg-based National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, called it "concerning" the province's legislation isn’t being complied with in a timely manner.
"Leadership has to lead in this regard and it has to set a tone. This is not easy work, and the fact that there are delays on this may suggest that it’s not being taken as seriously as it could be," Moran said.
"The province doesn’t have any external pressure on them right now to deliver this report on time and that’s very indicative of the reconciliation process overall. Agencies, municipalities, provinces… it requires self-motivation to reach targets, to set goals, to achieve those goals. So the concern obviously is when we see timelines slipping this year, will it slip again next year? Will it slip again the year after that?" he said.
"And then when does reconciliation just become sort of a passing fancy? How committed is the province and other agencies across the country to achieving this?"
"When does reconciliation just become sort of a passing fancy? How committed is the province and other agencies across the country to achieving this?" -Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The federal government has been tracking its progress on the TRC recommendations on a website run by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, said he feels as though Canada is taking steps forward on reconciliation, while Manitoba goes in reverse. He pointed to conversations on night hunting not giving equal weight to Indigenous perspectives, and the MMF’s ongoing legal dispute over a quashed Manitoba Hydro deal, as examples.
Chartrand said a provincial bureaucrat recently called the MMF office wanting to talk about reconciliation, which blew him away.
"There is no reconciliation with this government. There’s never been a temporary conciliation, and I don’t see how they can even have the nerve to say, ‘Let’s start talking about reconciliation,’" he said.
The MMF is still waiting for a planned meeting with the minister of Crown services, which it requested before the end of July, Chartrand said.
St. Vital MLA Colleen Mayer, who was appointed minister responsible for the file Aug. 1, said she and Clarke sent Chartrand a letter Aug. 16 saying they would like to meet "very shortly."
"We agree that establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is critical to reconciliation, and I look forward to moving reconciliation forward as I work with Mr. Chartrand, as well as all Métis and Indigenous people in this province," Mayer said in an emailed statement.
Chartrand said he expects to know within "the first five minutes" of meeting the new minister whether he can anticipate any changes in their relationship with the province.
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he wasn’t surprised the Path to Reconciliation report is delayed after the province’s public spat with the MMF this year.
"I do think at the grassroots level, there’s not a lot of love for this government and the way they’ve been talking about Indigenous issues," Kinew said. "They seem to be more interested in race-baiting than reconciliation."
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Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.