Truth and Reconciliation

We must be honest about the real two solitudes in this country, that between Indigenous and non Indigenous citizens, and commit to doing tangible things to close the divide in awareness, understanding  and relationships.… We can no longer afford to be strangers to each other in this country that we now  share. We could actually come to know each other not just as labels or hyphenated Canadians but rather as  neighbors and as friends, as people that we care about.

– Dr. Marie Wilson (award-winning print, radio, and television journalist; university lecturer;  commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission).

Like other policies under the Indian Act, the negative effects of residential schools were passed from  generation to generation. Indigenous Peoples have been working hard to overcome the legacy of  residential schools and to change the realities for themselves, their families, and their Nations. The  federal government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to deal  with the legacy of residential schools. Its mandate was to accumulate, document, and commemorate the  experiences of the 80,000 survivors of the residential school system in Canada, so the survivors could  begin to heal from the trauma of these experiences.

The TRC had two overarching goals:

  • to document the experiences of all survivors, families, and communities personally affected  by residential schools—including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis former residential school  students and their families and communities, the churches, former school employees,  government, and other Canadians
  • to teach all Canadians about what happened in residential schools

The TRC pursued truth by gathering people’s stories and statements, researching government records,  and providing public education. The TRC saw reconciliation as an ongoing individual and collective  process.

Unfortunately, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not officially include the Métis Nation in their inquiry and, as a result, the experience and legacy of Residential Schools and Day schools to Métis Nation is not well documented, understood, or represented in the TRC’s Calls to Action.

The TRC’s 94 Calls to Action

The TRC built on the Government of Canada’s Statement of Reconciliation dated January 7, 1998.  The commission completed its work on December 18, 2015. However, the journey of Truth and  Reconciliation is far from over.

The TRC produced several reports based on the histories and stories of residential school survivors.  One of the most significant reports is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to  Action, which proposes 94 specific calls to action aimed at redressing the legacy of residential schools  and advancing the process of Canadian reconciliation. You can read more at the Reconciliation Canada website.1

The work of the TRC was not just about documenting a particularly difficult part of Indigenous history in Canada. It was rooted in the belief that telling the truth about our common history gives us a much better starting point in building a better future. By ending the silences under which Indigenous Peoples have suffered for many decades, the TRC opened the possibility that we may all come to see each other and our different histories more clearly and be able to work together in a better way to resolve issues that have long divided us. It is the beginning of a new kind of hope.

See the Beyond 94 website to discover how many of the 94 Calls to Action of the TRC have been completed or are in progress.2

Reflection Question

What do you know about the CTAs? How has your workplace and /or community responded?


Activity 1: Stolen Children: Voices (30 min)  

This 20 minute CBC mini-documentary, Stolen Children: Voices,3 shares stories from survivors and the  effects of residential school on their culture, community, and families.

Reflect on Stolen Children

  • What was the most shocking part of the video? What was the hardest part to understand or  accept?
  • What would have happened to you as a child if you had been taken away from your family?
  • How do you think the impacts of these schools might still be affecting Indigenous Peoples  today?

Activity 2: Tons of stuff you need to know  

In this book, First Nations 101: Tons of Stuff You Need to Know about First Nations Peoples,4 Tsimshian  author Lynda Gray discusses and debunks many stereotypes and misinformation about First Nations people.  Read this book to learn more, and then share this book with others.


  1. Reconciliation Canada (
  2. Beyond 94 (
  3. Stolen Children: Voices (
  4. First Nations 101: Tons of Stuff You Need to Know about First Nations Peoples (


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Pulling Together: Manitoba Foundations Guide (Brandon Edition) Copyright © by Manitoba Foundations Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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