Commitment is needed by everyone.

People who have heard me speak about reconciliation, often say they do not support it because they are angry at this government.

I understand that. I have said many times that reconciliation will not be achieved in my lifetime, nor will it be achieved in the lifetime of my children I suspect,

The attitude that Aboriginal people are just another inferior minority group, responsible for their own situation (look how newcomers have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps they say) working against the Nation’s interest and corruptly misspending public money is very entrenched. The majority of Canadians believe that, even though a majority of Canadians also feel empathy, even sympathy, for the “plights” Aboriginal people face.

Changing those situations is important, but nothing will be very effective, in my opinion, until we educate Canadians in a manner that results in respect for Aboriginal people and their rights as the original peoples of this land. Knowing the history of residential schools is key to understanding why things are the way they are, but knowing what public schools have done and are still doing is also key, It’s not an Aboriginal problem we’re trying to fix, it’s a Canadian one. That’s gonna take time…and serious long-term commitment. The same long-term commitment that was behind the schools even when every analysis done during their existence showed they were failing. The Americans closed down their operation of Indian Boarding Schools in the 1930s for that reason, but Canada just kept plugging away, usually because churches would not agree to closure. They had their own motives.

Money will not buy new attitudes. Education will. It is through education that we got here, and it is through education that we will fix this relationship.

So to the cynics throwing the stones, keep that in mind. I know that’s not going to make you stop – you are entrenched in your thinking too. But next time attach a note to your stone, with your plan, so at least part of what you do might have a positive impact.

About Senator Murray Sinclair

Canadian Senator Formerly Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba and recent Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
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6 Responses to Commitment is needed by everyone.

  1. Bonnie Wood says:

    I agree with the article ..education…overcoming our ignorance ..learning to be loving.
    FN ppl must be elevated after all the neglect,abuse /and to date /our leadership has not honoured the responsibilities for their actions.Shameful.
    For me,as a member of NDP..I believe the learning can begin in Canada if the opposition could lead a better way for FN ..we Ned FN ppl… Without them Canada is without heart.

  2. hansong@mts.net says:

    You are so insightful, I just love reading your thoughts. They are so full of truth. It seems to me that forgiveness frees the soul and somehow indigenous people must forgive settlers for the wrongs of the past. On the other hand the non-indigenous attitudes to which you refer to are deeply entrenched, even in otherwise well meaning people. We must try to educate them to respect the rights of aboriginal people and celebrate aboriginal heritage and culture. We must change this from a perceived weakness in our society into a strength. I wish we could do this more quickly but I am learning that it will only be through a slow process of education that we achieve the end result. I wish we could reach a “tipping point” where forgiveness and understanding would meet. I am so thankful that their are people like you in our society that are making a difference and trying to move us all in the right direction. Gregg Hanson

    Proud Manitoban and Canadian

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. I hear you Murray, but I I guess I just don’t feel like its the job of the Native to educate the white man. That is their work, I believe that we need to educate our own peoples and expand our political base of resistance towards self determination and sovereignty including economic self sufficiency. I also believe that we need to align our selves with other social movements in this country especially organized labour since workers lives are so intrinsically tied into the extraction, refinement, production and consumption of resources and energy from our lands. This alignment must be based in a foundation of Anti Racism, Anti Oppression and most importantly Anti Colonialism, its from this place that we can create a new economic paradigm that does sacrifice certain communities at the alter of economic development. I too believe that the path to reconciliation is something everyone is has a stake in here in Canada, and our challenge is to organize in a way that builds true power with the people especially our Native woman and that allows them to steer our path in a clear accountable way that is transparent. I fear that there is a growing polarity between our newly emerged Native middle class here in Canada and the rest of our people that is being exploited by the corporate sector and by the government. I would love to have coffee with you some time to discuss these themes. Ekosani Maha

  4. Arlette McArthur says:

    It would be ideal for each Nation to intrinsically develop their history, with families, generations affected by residential school syndromes/symptoms then and now, contribute to a national collection, substantiate with school records and develop the collective truth. There is no need to seek permission from any government to speak freely of what is/has been happening!

    There are enough educated adults and youth to partake in recording this history, what better time than now! This is the tipping point.

  5. Tsi Nikayen' Enonhne' (Gregg) Powless says:

    Education alone will not change attitudes or lead to reconciliation. Knowing and standing up for our inherent rights must lead the fight against demeaning policies and racist obstructionists. Only then once we have put the o’serroni on the defensive will they be open to understanding, as long as it is done in complete love and respect, and with calm and forgiving passion.

    Unreasonable people, bigots and ignorunts cannot be changed, nor should we. But attacking their message with facts will undermine their attempts to gain support for their limited thinking.

    Education is but one vehicle which we may become of one mind. Once settlers understand that they are neither superior or inferior to us, we can move towards the peace, power and rightousness that the Two Row Wampum was originally founded.

  6. R Nuytten says:

    When it comes to improved equity and addressing the needs amongst the diverse peoples in Manitoba, especially First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, I believe we need to be more critical in our thinking, more forthright in our comments and more direct in our actions, regardless of the voices that disagree. Education isn’t everything, but it gives us a hopeful place to begin.

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