ONTARIO Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement on Tuesday in response to the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report summary:
I would like to thank The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair and the entire Truth and Reconciliation Commission for assembling what will be Canada’s most comprehensive report on the atrocities committed at residential schools. I would especially like to thank the Survivors who shared their experiences and who have shone a light into one of the darkest chapters of our country’s history.
The Commission has offered us an opportunity to renew our relationship with Aboriginal partners, and challenged us to renew our commitment to live together on this land based on principles of trust, mutual respect and shared benefits. Working with our First Nations, Métis and Inuit partners, it is a challenge the province of Ontario is grateful to accept. Our government will carefully review the report summary and its recommendations, and we look forward to reviewing the final report in its entirety.
Today, I want to reaffirm the Province of Ontario’s commitment to reconciliation, to supporting Survivors and to continuing to build trust with Aboriginal partners.
For reconciliation to succeed, we must also renew our commitment to educating Ontarians on the role that treaties and the residential school legacy play in Canada’s past, present and future. That is why we have worked with Aboriginal and other partners in revising our curriculum to include greater requirements for students to learn about the residential school experience, and will continue to do so from a perspective that honours Survivors, encourages critical thinking, and teaches an understanding of both the short and long-term consequences of residential schools.
Ontario is also working with Aboriginal partners to make everyone in the province aware of our rights and responsibilities as treaty people. This includes the work we have done to distribute treaty maps to every publicly funded school in Ontario, our support for the Anishinabek Nation in developing the “We Are All Treaty People” Teacher’s Kit, and our work to make the “Walk-A-Mile Film Project” available in schools and libraries across the province.
As part of a broader awareness campaign, the Province is also supporting two public service announcements: one which will tell the truth about Canada’s residential schools, and one which will advocate a deeper understanding of our treaties.
Our shared past is one in which our country practised state-sanctioned abuse and assimilation as just one of a set of policies designed to disempower and dismantle entire peoples and their ways of life. This has left a legacy of racism and marginalization that continues to echo in the lives of Aboriginal peoples and across our society. It means we all have a responsibility to work towards reconciliation. The burden of what we now recognize as a national policy of attempted cultural genocide should not be borne by Aboriginal people alone.
We cannot change our past, but by unearthing the truth and truly understanding its meaning, we give ourselves the power to change the future. To truly make lasting change, governments must be active agents in dismantling the system of repression that they spent centuries building, and on this historic day for truth and justice in Canada, it is encouraging to see other provinces and territories taking steps towards reconciliation.”