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

With the help of a $110,000 federal grant, Saanich will be adding 22 new EV chargers for its municipal fleet to reduce emissions from district operations. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich adds 22 new EV chargers for municipal fleet to reduce corporate emissions

Federal grant adds $110,000 jolt to project, installation to be completed fall 2022

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read