In this file photo, Justice Murray Sinclair (centre) and Commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild (left) and Marie Wilson pull back a blanket to unveil the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the history of Canada’s residential school system, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In this file photo, Justice Murray Sinclair (centre) and Commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild (left) and Marie Wilson pull back a blanket to unveil the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the history of Canada’s residential school system, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Reconciliation delayed and anti-Indigenous racism rising: TRC commissioners

‘It’s kind of an urgent matter now to really refocus on the calls to action’

Five years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its final report, commissioners Murray Sinclair, Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson are coming together to voice their concerns about the slow pace of reconciliation in Canada.

The commission’s final report provided a detailed account of what happened to Indigenous children who were physically and sexually abused in government boarding schools, where at least 3,200 children died amid abuse and neglect.

The commission also published 94 calls to action urging all levels of government to change policies and programs to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation.

The three commissioners will be holding a press conference virtually on Tuesday morning to mark the fifth anniversary of the release of their final report.

Littlechild, a Cree chief and former MP who is a residential school survivor, said he’s encouraged by progress on reconciliation but he is concerned about the pace.

“The pace is what consensus is. We thought, as the commissioners, we would be farther ahead by now after five years,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press Monday.

“It’s kind of an urgent matter now to really refocus on the calls to action.”

He said the three TRC commissioners haven’t been together since the commission finished its work five years ago.

Littlechild said he is also worried about growing racism in Canada.

“One of the (areas) where it’s going backwards, it’s the very open systemic racism and discrimination that’s not only continuing, but escalating.”

Sen. Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said groups advocating for racism in the United States felt empowered in the last few years and that spilled over to Canada.

He says these groups are targeting specific issues that are important for reconciliation, including the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Earlier this month, the Liberal government introduced legislation to align federal laws with the United Nations declaration.

“We need to recognize that there is still some resistance on the part of some elements of Canadian society,” Sinclair said in an interview.

He said racist and white-supremacist groups are attempting to deny the validity of the Indigenous story.

“They are feeling empowered and feeling that they have the right to voice their opinions,” he said. “There is a very significant element of resistance that is trying to stir up fears and misunderstandings and misinformation.”

Littlechild said he’s troubled that six provinces oppose the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous-relations ministers from Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick called for the delay of the UNDRIP bill in a letter obtained by The Globe and Mail earlier in December.

“It’s not any more seeking consensus in terms of a non-partisan issue. It’s no longer about the process. It’s now politics,” Littlechild said. “That’s very, very sad and unfortunate.”

He said standing in the way of implementing the UN declaration means standing in the way of reconciliation.

“Indigenous survival, dignity and well-being should be a non-partisan issue,” he says.

The commissioners are also concerned that a National Council for Reconciliation has not been established five years after they called for one.

Sinclair said the lack of this council is leaving the entire conversation about priorities in the hands of the government.

“The government, in some respects, is in a bit of a conflict of interest when it comes to the process of reconciliation and Indigenous rights,” he said. “They control the legislative process that governs the lives of Indigenous people without attempting to give up that control or to acknowledge it. They should no longer be in charge.”

Sinclair said the UN declaration calls upon colonizing states, including Canada, to recognize that they spent a lot of money to take land rights away from Indigenous people, so they have to be willing to spend a lot of money to undo that harm.

“They have to recognize that much of the income that governments have earned over the last number of generations, it’s come from the resources that Indigenous people have a right to claim, still belong to them or still to be shared with them.”

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Steve Smith’s image of two sibling adolescent grizzly bears playfighting in the Chilko River in the B.C. Interior earned him best of show at the prestigious Lion’s Gate Celebration of Nature club competition for 2020-21. (Photo by Steve Smith)
Victoria Camera Club captures top spot in prestigious nature and wildlife competition

Saanich Peninsula photographers part of award-winning team

Downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour are part of a corridor that also includes much of urban Saanich that is part of the Greater Victoria 2030 District, a sustainable buildings climate initiative announced recently. (Black Press Media file photo)
Ramping up energy efficiency in Greater Victoria buildings goal of new group

Greater Victoria 2030 District part of North American network of cities working to reduce emissions

Oak Bay High Grade 10 students Oliver Wakely and Alex Joiner with the new scoreboard to soon be installed on the grass turf. Fundraising from the Oak Bay Barbarians rugby alumni and Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay High alumni buy new scoreboard

Scoreboard to be installed on grass field

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Most Read