Is there a traditional perspective of Truth and Reconciliation?

no joke there's a nigga chick there's no caste you go to them I'm going to try to do this without a microphone and if if any of you have trouble hearing me just let me know and we'll move you out of the room it's hard to know how to begin this topic but I always say I should begin by talking about where I'm at today because it kind of helps put this conversation in perspective I got to tell you today's a rough day in our household because our daughter went back home to Halifax she was in for a week after her exams finished at Dalhousie and now she's gone back to Halifax so there's just me my wife and the dogs and and I know I know the the dogs are kind of missing our daughter but I can't tell you how much my wife is he's missing her she's not even answering the phone right now so I know things are sad at home so but that's just an indication I think of how important our family is to us and that because of that we always like to think about what it is that that values that we value it's important to us and each day that that we have an opportunity we should always think about that we have a large staff at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and one of the things I've always told them is that we are engaged in very difficult work we're engaged in work that invokes the spirit the spirit of those who are no longer with us and also the spirit of those who are yet to come because they are so much hope and faith in the work that we're doing that we have an obligation to think of them as we go forward but all of that burden that we carry of those spirits that are part of what we're doing tend to weigh you down after well so I always encourage my staff people who work with us take care of themselves be sure they're in a good place be sure they take care of their families and be sure they let their families take care of them because it's so important and those of you who work with people particularly young people you know the importance of what I'm telling you because of the work that you do with students the most important thing that you have to do is take care of yourself so that you're in a strong place for them and when they're in need of what it is that you have to give you can give that to them but at the same time when you're in need of what they have they give that to you president Barnard at the noon event talked about the energy that was in that room and it was great energy it's true it's really fantastic energy to feel from all the people who are there and that's what I'm talking about when I'm talking about spirit spirit of the people comes out in that way through the energy and the presence that you feel when you see someone and what you get just from being near somebody we get that from our kids we got that from our daughter when she was here this week we're not looking forward to the loss of it now that she's gone back home and you can only accomplish so much by reaching out and touching someone with the phone right so and I'm glad to say that she got home okay because she sent me a blackberry message it said she arrived in Halifax all right so that's a good thing I kind of wish the plane had turned around though I want to talk about three major things I want to talk about the Commission I want to talk about what the Commission's ambitions are and what the work is that we're trying to achieve with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission tell you a little background about the Commission how it came about and how we're approaching that work I want to talk about what my ambitions are for the Commission personally in terms of what I hope to accomplish with the things that we're going to do keeping in mind of course that I'm not the only force that's there there are two other commissioners who are involved with the Commission and part of our responsibility is to try to work together to develop a consensus approach to the things that we do and that we have a an end result that all of us can be proud of but in doing that we all have our own individual ambitions and then I want to talk about the future after the Commission what is that going to mean what are we hoping it will look like and what should it look like so I think that will be an important part of the discussion I know Truth and Reconciliation commissions are not a new phenomenon as you know those of you who have ever looked at the question of Truth and Reconciliation commissions of course always find when you google it that the first thing that pops up when the google searches is the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission but Truth and Reconciliation commissions have been a response by governments throughout the world to Holocaust or genocidal circumstances and occurring in various countries there have been at last count about 32 Truth and Reconciliation commissions established most by governments usually by governments that have followed upon a government that has been removed from office through some kind of revolution or revolutionary act or even through an election of some kind the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission of course came out of the abolition of apartheid and the abolition of apartheid had focused upon some of the atrocities that occurred to black people at the hands of government and government officials and in particular the military during the period of apartheid in South Africa but the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is unique in several respects and while people think of the South African Commission when they think about Truth and Reconciliation commissions I just want to bring home to you the fact that it actually is so unique that there's never been another Commission like it and probably never will be because of the unique circumstances in which it evolved there were at least two major unique aspects of the South African Commission that I want to highlight for you one was that when it was established it actually didn't have a compensation or a compensatory element to it that only came about afterwards as it began its work of gathering evidence about some of the atrocities that had occurred whereas most Truth and Reconciliation commissions begin with that aspect in mind these days and that is the question of compensation and sometimes as is in the case of Canada the issue of compensation is the major focus and Truth and Reconciliation Commission becomes a secondary focus but the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission didn't start out with that issue of compensation it was a factor that was added in later after it had begun its work but probably the most important aspect of the South African Commission that was missing and is missing for most of the other Truth and Reconciliation commissions is its capacity to grant immunity or to to allow people to testify without facing the possibility of being prosecuted or being sued as a result of anything that they did so the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission had the ability to provide that to individuals and not every Truth and Reconciliation Commission that's been established since then has got that authority we don't have it we talked as commissioners about it when we were being appointed as to whether it was something that we thought we should do and we decided against it you know I'll tell you why in the course of this discussion but it had the authority to grant immunity and it in fact went through a long series of discussions at it's and it's forums to debate what the principles that would be put in place before immunity could be granted to an individual they felt of course that immunity was important in order to get some of the military officials to come forward in order to be able to talk about what they had done to individuals while they were acting on behalf of government and and then to use those individuals or to take those individuals and put them together with their victims in order to showcase or to show how reconciliation works one of the things about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that has come to be its hallmark I think has been the fact that at it's very core forgiveness was an important element of everything that they did and and that's probably a direct reflection of the philosophy of the chair of the South African Commission Bishop Desmond Tutu Bishop tutu with his religious background in his training was very emphatic about the fact that individuals who came forward to talk about their victimization should be prepared as part of their statement giving to indicate that they are willing and after giving their statement to forgive whoever it was that had committed this atrocity against them and so forgiveness was an important element of the conversations that they had during the hearings of the South African Commission and at the on the other end of the spectrum those who were brought forward as victimizers from the military or from the police who talked about what they had done to others were after they had given a statement asked whether they were prepared to ask for forgiveness from the ones that they had victimized so forgiveness was an important part of the conversation and those of you who have seen any of the writings of Bishop tutu since then know that since his work as a chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he has written extensively on the importance of forgiveness in the lives of those who have been subject to or victims of acts at the hands of other people and his philosophy is that forgiveness is an important part of being able to move on that you cannot move on effectively from your victimization unless you are prepared to forgive your victimizer because then you still carry otherwise he says you still carry the burden of you having been victimized or having been the subject of a criminal act at the hands of another so that leads naturally to the question of where does forgiveness stand in the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and I'll tell you about that in a minute because I think that's an important conversation to have just today in fact some of you may know that there there is a conference going on there was a conference going on today by a group of Aboriginal people who are who are part of what they call the forgiveness movement who are taking the initiative of leading a group of Aboriginal survivors are trying to engage Aboriginal survivors with them in a discussion about whether they are prepared to make a statement of forgiveness to the government and to the churches on the anniversary of the apology On June the 11th of this year and so that's a strong that's a movement that's starting to develop out there and while we have been invited to participate with them in their activities on June the 11th we have declined to do so as a commission partly because we're not available we're involved of course in other things but partly because we have a particular approach to forgiveness at this point that I'll tell you about but I kind of get ahead of myself very quickly in these things because my intent is now to talk about how our Commission came to be and put it in the context of how other Commission's have come about as well other other commissions of course have also been created by governments as a result of events that one could could call atrocities or genocidal activities without the same kind of mandate the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission has developed but there have been other Truth and Reconciliation commissions that have been established by private individuals by non nonprofit charitable organizations for the purpose of assisting communities of people in order to address issues that they have been confronted with in the course of their lives as well but for the most part Truth and Reconciliation commissions have generally been established by government our Commission wasn't established by government our Commission was actually established as a result of a court order and a lot of people don't know that a lot of people don't understand that they think that we're a government created Commission and in fact many survivors think we're a government created Commission and I think it's probably because the government has been very quick to take credit for the appointment of the commissioners to the Commission but I'm very very assertive about pointing out both the government to the public and to the survivors that this is not a government appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission we are not accountable to the government we do not report to the government and the reason is because everything goes back to the lawsuits you may remember that beginning in the 1990s a number of survivors took action against the government and some of the churches for things that had happened to them while there were students in the residential schools in Canada and in particular there were complaints largely founded upon allegations of physical and sexual abuse primarily sexual abuse but physical abuse as well and at the same time they took their complaints to police authorities and asked police authorities to investigate these for determination of whether criminal prosecutions should occur so criminal prosecutions on the one hand and civil lawsuits on the other started in the early 1990s as part of the survivor reaction to the experience of residential schools residential schools were an important part of Canadian policy almost from the time of Confederation but certainly from the 1880s the early 1880s onward residential schools were an established policy of assimilation utilized by the government for the purpose of addressing what they call the Indian problem the government saw the Indian problem as being the fact that in Western Canada in particular in Canada generally there were these pockets significant populations of Aboriginal people who claimed ownership of the land or title to the land that they occupied and that land was often needed by government for settlement purposes or for development purposes and after Confederation those of you who know your Canadian history will know remember that sir Johnny MacDonald had this dream of running the Canadian Dominion from coast-to-coast and in order to do that he saw the creation and the construction of a national rail line system as an important part of that creation of the Dominion and so in order to establish a rail line system he had to buy land he had to have land under the control of the government from one one part of the country from one side of the country to the other in order to have ownership of that he was obligated as a result of the Hudson's Bay transfer the Rupert's land land transfer that occurred in 1869 and a transfer that was imposed upon Canada the condition that was imposed upon Canada as a condition of the transfer by British legislation and in that legislation it said that Manitoba before it could claim dominion over the lands in Western Canada what was then called Rupert's land they had to treat with the Indians they had to settle the issue of Indian title to the land in accordance with the principles of the Royal proclamation of 1763 now I know that most of you don't know the real proclamation of 1763 I'm sure you don't sit up at night reading this thing and if you did I can assure you you'd really go to sleep more easily it's not the most fascinating document in the world except to us lawyers us lawyers live and breathe the Royal Proclamation I can tell you it's a very fascinating document because it has a number of provisions in it that relate to the question of the Indian right to the land that was claimed by the crown and the ROE Proclamation in its simple terms recognized the validity of Indian title to the land and said that white people European settlers could not go and settle on Indian land until the Indians had agreed to give up their claim to the land or their title to the land to the crown and then once the crown had title to the land and Europeans could go and settle on the land that's in simple terms what the Royal Proclamation said now two other provisions in a to but that was the most important part and when the Hudson's Bay Company gave up their title to Western Canada in return for Canadian dominion into the West British parliamentarians imposed upon Canada the requirement that Canada had to negotiate with the Indians to get the Indians to give up their title to the lands of Western Canada which is why beginning in 1870 you see treaties all across Western Canada because that was the government response to their requirement to get Indian title cleared off the land they couldn't build a railway they couldn't establish their sovereignty crown sovereignty in the West until they entered into those treaties and there are many legal theorists who put forward the argument that because they have not entered into treaties with all of those Indians in Western Canada and because they have not entered into treaties that cover all of the lands in Western Canada therefore Crown sovereignty has not yet been established in Western Canada and there will be lawyers who will be writing about that and arguing about that for generations to come I assure you what a guard 'less of that point the government certainly accepted their obligation early on by accepting the obligation they entered into those treaties and in those treaties they agreed among other things that Indians would be entitled to certain rights under the treaties one of the rights under the treaties that they promised was that they promised to educate the children of those who signed the treaty every treaty in Western Canada has an Indian what a call what's called an Indian schools clause in the Indian schools Clause says that the government promises that they will build schools on the reserves set aside for the Indians and the reason if those clauses are there actually is not because the government intended to educate the Indians they actually didn't have any such intention whatsoever because the clause was not in the original drafts of the treaty government went to the treaty negotiations with drafted treaties they actually put those provisions in there at the request of the Indian negotiators because the Indian negotiators wanted their children to be educated so that they could exist and succeed in this new country that they were forming his partnership with and so because of the that request the Indian schools clauses were put into the treaties the Indian schools clauses were seen by one side the Indian side from one end of course the schools were to be on the reserve set aside for the Indians but they quickly became a vehicle that the government saw as an opportunity to do something else instead of putting the schools on the reserve the government decided that they would follow their earlier policy of Christianizing Indians through the use of missionary run schools a policy that they had established in Ontario in the in the 1830s and in Quebec that policy had been part of the the tradition of Lower Canada beginning back in the 1700s so that tradition of educating through Christianization our Christianizing through education if you want to call it that was part of the government's approach from early on an early contact period in any event as part of their approach to settling the Indian question in the West the government decided that they were going to establish residential schools the residential schools became the approach to the implementation of the education clauses and the treaties in the 1870s but it wasn't until the 1880s that the government saw the real value in it and all of the research shows that it was in the 1880s that the government really began not only to see the the value of utilizing the schools for assimilation of policies but also the important need for assimilationist approach because they saw the presence of large pockets of Indian people in Western Canada who are not subject to the same rules of behavior the same cultural ethical rules that Europeans followed as an implementation as an impediment to Western expansion they saw that it was a potential conflict between the European settlers who were going to be settling the West and the Indian population unless they were able to deal with the Indian problem and what was the Indian problem the Indians had a different lifestyle they followed a different way of thinking they spoke different languages and so the government saw that as a problem so they just to attack it and their attack of that was through the school system through the establishment of residential schools and many of you I think have heard me talk about this before but for those of you who haven't heard it I'll just give you a brief synopsis of how they approach this through the establishment of the residential schools they passed a law the first one of the first amendments to Indian legislation that was put in place which required that all children of Indian people between the ages of five and seventeen had to attend a school designated by the superintendent General of Indian Affairs and that was placed in in what we now call the Indian act at that time it was it was a different piece of legislation but it was the equivalent of the Indian act of the day so all Indian people who had children between the ages of five and seventeen had to send their children to schools designated by the superintendent general of course the superintendent general was this is a minister of Indian Affairs and the schools that were designated were never schools on the reserve there were schools that were located elsewhere because the government decided to put the age the issue of managing the schools in the hands of churches because the churches had undertaken from an early point in time the role of its in its missionary role the the task of educating children from their parishioners members of their congregation they would put them in these in these religious institutions these religious schools they would educate them and return them back to their families so it was a natural step in an easy step for the churches to come forward and say we'll run these schools for you and so the schools were funded by the government run by the churches with the primary purpose being to take the Indian out of the child kill the Indian in the child as the philosophy became known and a famous quote from the government of the day was that within a century they saw that there would no longer be any Indian people there would be no longer be any Indian problem and so that was the intent of the residential schools so the mirror the basic policy behind the schools was to take the children away from their families and put them into these institutions and indoctrinate them into a new way of life and then send them back home thinking that they would then carry on this new way of life into which they had been assimilated while they were in the schools relatively simple way of thinking social Darwinism at its best and so that's what they set out to do never mind the fact that those schools became easily became institutions where death occurred frequently and where the imposition of another culture the assimilationist philosophy was going to be risky and particularly when you put it in the hands of people who are not properly trained on how to educate and how to deal with children and their potential abuses that come from that just putting that issue of abuse aside the real issue that I think we need to ask ourselves is is there any merit to that philosophy and and you can say to yourselves perhaps if you're a social Darwinists if you believe that in fact there are some people in society who are inferior to the point where we should take them away and put them in institutions so that we can re-educate them send them back out as better people if there are some of you who believe that then let me ask you to flip the coin a little bit and look at it from the perspective of a parent what would you think if as a parent somebody came to your house and said to you one day we're here from the government and we're here to take care of your children we're gonna take the children out of your house we're going to ship them over here to this school a hundred and thirty-seven thousand miles away however far it needs to be so that you can't see them we're going to put them in that school and we're going to leave them there for a period of 10 or 11 or 12 years and while they're there we're going to teach them a different language we're going to teach them a different culture we're going to teach them that the language that you speak at home is wrong we're going to teach them if your culture is backward is evil in fact and is the work of the devil we're going to teach them that everything that you do here is an old longer valid in today's society so that they will not be able to hunt they will not be able to fish they will not be able to trap they we will teach them that the only skills that they will need are those that are being used by the people of this dominant society or dominant culture if as a parent somebody came to you and said that's what we'd like to do with your children what would you say say no way you're not going to take them so the government was smart enough not to say that right they never did come to the parents and say that's what we're gonna do to your children they would come to that of parents and they said we're going to educate your children we're going to make sure that your children get an education so that they can function in Canadian society as everybody else can and so the parents at the very beginning we know and all of the records show that the pair is very willingly allowed their children to go to these schools and in fact encourage their children sometimes against their children's wishes sent their children to these schools very early on and there's lots of evidence that in the early period of residential schools the residential school approach was supported by large numbers of Indian leaders it was something that they wanted it was something they supported it was something they believed in because it was something that people wanted for their children mmm they wanted them to go to these schools so that these children could be educated and could be taught the skills and given the tools that they would need in order to be able to function in Canadian society but it didn't take long before evidence started to gather of the kinds of things that was happening to their kids in these schools and not every child who went to those schools was abused physically or sexually and in fact I'll say to you that probably only a small minority and by small I mean something less than 25% were probably abused physically and sexually at that early point in time in fact we don't have much evidence of that being a big issue early on the big issue became that the children didn't like it children didn't want to be there and if you think about it as a child if you were taken away from your family and you were put in institutions far away from home you probably wouldn't like it either right you're ready to go to school maybe you're persuaded that going to school is a good thing and you're looking forward to it but at the same time you'll find up you what you find that you're ending up in an institution in which you're not treated very well they don't talk about you very well they don't talk about your culture they don't talk about your family don't talk about your community and we'll talk about your people very well and even as a little child you may feel that there's a lot of fun things going on but there's still part of you that's going to miss your family you're gonna miss your mother gonna miss your brothers and sisters you're gonna want to go home and early on the philosophy was children were not allowed to go home we're not allowed to go home to visit and the parents were not encouraged to visit and in fact some parents who would try to visit would become problematic to the school administrators it was by 1888 an amendment to the Indian Act was put in place which said that Indian parents could not go to the schools and remove their children that would be an offense if they interfered with their attendance of the children at these schools and of course if they declined to send their children to the schools they could be prosecuted because it was a provision of the Indian Act right and if you breach the Indian Act you could be prosecuted and parents who decided that they didn't like the way the schools were being run low is being done to their children or the mere fact that their children were being housed in this way in these places they might try to do something about it knowing that they couldn't go there and take the children out because of these laws they might they might do the logical thing as a parent what would you do well you might you might go and talk to your Member of Parliament right you might go and talk to somebody to see if they could help you do it well it became an offence for Indians to protest so if Indians wanted to travel to Ottawa to go and talk to their Member of Parliament or if they wanted to travel from the reserve and to Winnipeg they put in this past system which said you can't leave the reserve unless you got a written pass from the Indian agent and the Indian agent wouldn't give you a pass unless you told them why you were leaving what you were doing so they put the past system in place they controlled movement and you got to remember as well around 1885 we had this interesting episode of Saskatchewan right the Saskatchewan rebellion of 1885 involving primarily the maytee who were resisting of course the government expansion into that part of the country but we also must remember that Indians were involved in that rebellion but there are a number of people who are hung who were involved in that but there were 38 Indians who were hanged at Regina as a result of their participation in the Saskatchewan rebellion so Indian participation in the Saskatchewan rebellion was considered by the government to be more problematic than maytee participation in the rebellion and they were very concerned about it so they passed other laws like the potlatch and Sundance laws for example in 1885 which made it an offence to participate in those kind of ceremonies because of the pop laches and the Sun dances were not merely ceremonies that the Christian movement behind the schools wanted to eliminate there was that part of it but in addition to that they were huge gathering events there were huge opportunities for Indians together in order to have these celebrations and the government was concerned about Indians gathering so the past system the elimination or the imposition of these laws which made it an offense to participate in these ceremonies were put in place in fact they went even further than the Sundance and potlatch laws they said it was an offense to participate in any Indian ceremony involving the exchange of gifts and that was the law until 1891 when it was pointed out that that prevented Indians from participating at Christmas so then they repeal that provision said that it was an offense if you participated in a ceremony wearing Indian garb whatever Indian garb was you couldn't wear it fact is a very famous prosecution from rivers Manitoba from the 1930s it was a parade in rivers Manitoba in which Indians were invited from Sioux Valley to ride in the parade on their horses wearing their war bonnets and their Indian outfits and they did so at the invitation I point out of the mayor of rivers only to be arrested by the RCMP because they were wearing Indian garb in the 1930s imagine that so it was still an offense so they put these laws in place in order to control Indian Movement Indian resistance to the residential school approach because the whole focus of legislation at that time was to assimilate Indians through the use of the schools and the the assimilation through the attack on children the most vulnerable population everything that all the amendments that occurred to the Indian legislation in the 1919 century were all focused around that question so we see amendments for example it said Indians couldn't vote why was the vote taken away in 1892 it was taken away because then Indians could have no influence upon elected officials to convince them to change the laws there was an amendment to the Indian Act that said Indians could not sue the government unless the government gave their permission to be sued unless the government gave their permission to be sued I don't know of any instance where the government never gave that permission there was an amendment to the Indian Act that said if three or more Indians gathered together for the purpose of protesting against the government for the purpose of airing a grievance against the government that was an offense it's called an Indian conspiracy Act right so Indians could not conspire you know two of you could conspire but three of them three of you three of you could not conspire right well so what have you got there your European friends your white friends to do something for you well it became an offense for white people to engage the services of a lawyer for the purpose or to raise money for the purpose of taking up the Indian cause against the government became an offence for white people to do anything on behalf of Indians and I used to wonder when I was in law school why weren't lawyers standing up and fighting for the rule of law you know it was all about the rule of law at law school importance of the rule of law is that everybody must obey the law everybody has the right to the protection of the law so why would our lawyers not standing up for that great cause because in 1886 they amended the Indian Act that said any lawyer who accepted a retainer from an Indian person or anybody on behalf of an Indian to represent an Indian against the government would lose his license to practice so they made an offense for lawyers to represent Indians so it was through law that Canada waged a war on Indians Americans waged their war with the military right all the time that Indians are being treated this way by the Canadian government Americans are fighting their Wars down in Montana and New Mexico and Arizona so you've got all these Indian Wars going on down in the States but Canada is fighting their war through law and their war was much more successful because the war in Canada through law effectively denied the right to any legal rights denied the validity of any claim to legal right to exist as Indian people to be recognized by the courts so courts in Canada never recognized the validity of any Indian claim for the longest time until 1972 in the Calder case and in the Calder case they still didn't recognize the validity of the right Supreme Court of Canada said probably they had some rights before the Europeans arrived but we don't have to say so at this point in time go back and start over again but probably they had some rights was a big warning to the government there's something here they said you better be ready for it because it's going to start coming back and in subsequent Court decisions led by the Supreme Court of Canada that that principle that Indians did have legal rights as Indians became established beginning in the 1970s but you know what that principle had been well-established in American jurisprudence back into the eighteen 1810 1811 1812 the validity of Indians as semi dependent nations as the American Supreme Court called them was recognized in a number of cases around 1812 by the Supreme Court of the United States so we look at these two jurisdictions and wonder why there's such different legal statuses it's because in the United States they didn't fight Indians through law they fought them with the military in Canada they fought Indians through law utilizing law and the courts therefore were almost hamstrung certainly in their thinking if not in their ability to deal effectively with Indian issues in this country but what does all of that mean to the issue of residential schools well what it means is this that we had from the period of the 1880s until the residential school policy was revoked officially in 1972 we had that whole period of time when the official policy of Canada towards Indian people was assimilation assimilation in every means through every means possible but primarily through the imposition of law and so early on we can see resistance to it early early on in fact we can see active opposition to that approach but that opposition started to wane as each generation of of Indian people started to go through the school system Inuit people were not subject to the residential school philosophy or policy until an interesting decision in the 1920s called in Ray Eskimo the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada the question arose in that period at that point in time as to whether Inuit people at that time referred to as Eskimos were inuit people Indians for purposes of federal jurisdiction or not and the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that in Eskimo people or Inuit people where in fact Indians within the meaning of section 90 124 of the British North America Act of 1867 and you'd think that for any what people that would be a success but little do they know that success meant the government was going to start to impose the residential school policy on them and we began to see in fact the use of residential schools to gather up Inuit children beginning in the 1930s that's why any what people were not subjected to the residential schools until the 1930s or 40s and the 50s and and we fact in fact we have more Inuit survivors per capita alive today of residential schools than we do First Nations per capita because most of them didn't go to residential school until the 30s 40s and 50s and 60s but the result is that Inuit and Indian status Indian people First Nations people were subject to the residential school approach but the main people didn't escape either and how did the maytee people get caught up we know that methi were not considered federal jurisdiction under Section 91 24 the British North America Act but they got caught up in a couple of ways first of all many made tea most made tea in fact certainly French make tea were Catholics and they use by the Catholic congregations of residential schools was a very active part of their church philosophy so those French maytee people who went to a Catholic Church were encouraged to send their children to Catholic boarding schools and most of the Catholic boarding schools in Western Canada were in fact residential schools where they also house First Nation students so there were a lot of matey students who were sent to French Catholic schools that were boarding schools so we have a substantial number of matey students who are entitled to claim as residential school survivors because even though they're not Indian under the Indian Act they were residents of the school and the residential school litigation says that anybody who went to a residential school is entitled to claim a compensation make a compensation claim for their attendance at the schools so we have Indian Inuit and making people all of whom were affected by the residential school approach what happened then was that we have the the litigation that started in in the 8th in the 1990s and that litigation began to grow early on it was just a few hundred cases but by the turn of the century by the the 2000 era a number of cases had grown to about 30,000 across Canada and these were people not all of whom of course we even knew that they were plaintiffs but all of whom had had their names added to various class actions that had been started so that the government very quickly decided to have to do something in order to deal with all of these potential claims so they asked the court to declare and to certify the actions as class actions and what that meant was that if you were going to sue the government and the churches under the residential school philosophy you had to get into one of the class actions so a class action certification in effect cut down on the number of people who were suing separately and you had to join a class action once it was certified if you were if you were a member of an identifiable group so the class actions allowed the government to identify the pool of claimants and allowed the government then to start to negotiate settlements and we know that the negotiations took a long time beginning in about 2002 negotiations lasted all six years before the settlement agreement was reached settlement agreement was reached in May of 2007 but it took a while for the settlements to be approved and so the settlement agreements were finally approved by the courts in early 2008 the settlement agreements set aside a large pool of money about two billion dollars for claims to be made by those students who went to the schools and you can make claims in two different ways one is if you went to a tended a residential school that's on the list of approved schools then merely by being a student by having been there at least one night you were entitled to a lump sum payment of $10,000 called a common experience payment if you could show that you were injured while you were there at the hands of somebody else then you could claim a second kind of claim called a compensation claim an injury claim under what's called the individual assessment process well you went in front of an adjudicator gave your testimony and then received your country received compensation in accordance with the table of benefits that were payable depending on the kind of injury that you sustained or the kind of damage or the kind of act that you were subjected to so then you would receive a second payment there have been about almost a hundred thousand claims for common experience payments made since the settlement agreement was put in place there have been about 15,000 claims for compensation for injuries so about 15% of the hundred thousand common experience payments that were claimed almost 23 percent have been turned down because the individual cannot prove that they were actually in a school that's on the approved list some of the some of it is because they went to a school that's not on the list some of it is because they can't prove that they went to a school even if they can say the schools on the list they can't prove they were there and it's mainly because they don't have records the individual doesn't have records they don't give you report cards for being in a residential school believe it or not they didn't actually give you a letter certifying your attendance when you there so most of the students who went to the residential schools cannot prove that they went to a school except through government records and I nak has admitted publicly that about 20% of their records have been lost or destroyed so 20% of the records substantiating claims for CEP just to show that you were at a school 20% of those records abound missing and so there's been a large number of very frustrated claimants who can't prove that they went to the schools as a result of that but those who have testified 23% 23% of the CEP claims again denied 15% of those who have made those claims have gone on to make compensation claims that have been adjudicated and had they have received some form of compensation in one form or the other also under the settlement agreement our Commission was established under the settlement agreement the survivors agreed their 60 million dollars out of that two billion dollar fund would be set aside for purposes of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission so that's why I say that our Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not established by government order our Commission is established because of the residential schools litigation and so what we – what we say to government every time government tries to tell us what to do we say oh Lola we don't have to listen to you we'll listen to all the parties so we have meetings of all of the parties to the settlement agreement we bring them together and we seek direction but if there's a dispute as to what it is it's going on we say well let's go back to see the judges who are supervising the settlement agreement and ask them for their opinion because we don't have to listen to the government when they tell us what to do we don't have to listen to the churches when they ask us to do something in a particular way we don't have to listen even to the survivor groups when they want us to do something in a particular way our obligation is to consult with all the parties and our obligation whenever we can't resolve it with the parties is to go back to the judges who are monitoring the settlement agreement to get their direction so the courts still have an ongoing role to supervise our Commission hmm now our commission was given two significant mandates of course there in the title truth and reconciliation the obligation under the truth component of our Commission's mandate is to file a report in which we tell the complete story of residential schools in Canada a complete story of residential schools in Canada means that we have to tell it from the perspective of the survivors the students who went there we have to include the perspective of those who work there the teachers we have to include the perspective of other people who worked in the schools to see what they can tell us about their experiences we also have to tell the perspective of government what was the government rationale for doing these things that they did not merely the establishment of the schools but why were schools in one area funded more than schools and other parts of the country for example why were schools built over here not over here why were they managed in the way that they were managed why were Inuit people treated in a particular way and why were teachers not certified to be teachers whenever put in positions and called teachers in the schools what was the process of hiring in the process of letting people go and of disciplining people of monitoring what was going on so we have an obligation to look at all of those things and to try to determine the complete story of residential schools so we don't have an obligation only to listen to survivors we don't have an obligation to toe the party line when it comes to the government view our obligation is to be balanced in terms of what we say about the residential schools so the truth to us is what is the complete story and what is the truth well the truth of course is a despite what you may think is a tricky little concept right what is truth to you may not be truth to somebody else truth is often a matter of perception what you saw really is only what you think you saw what you heard is really only what you thought you heard and what you thought you heard may be different from what somebody else thinks they heard what do you think you saw may be different from what somebody else thinks they saw and they may have seen the same thing that you did and the best example of that is go to court one day and listen to somebody testify about a car accident yeah you'll hear totally different versions watch Judge Judy I don't say what's your judy that not not for the not for the merely for the entertainment value that has that component to it but watch it from the perspective that people are talking about the very same incident in their lives and they're telling you about two totally different things right how many of you have children here how many of you have asked your children what happened here and what happened here and first of all if each of them is telling you the truth as they saw it if they are telling you the truth there's always that question right are they telling you the truth but if each of them is telling you the truth then there till telling you something different because they saw it different we all see things different even eyewitnesses who see the same thing see things different and testify honestly about that without knowing that they see it differently than somebody else so the truth is a is a difficult concept to get to and sometimes you get to the truth by trying to get the overall perspective of everybody who was there all right of everybody who is there so you find out by talking to everybody there what did you see and what did you see what did you all see and sometimes you say to people in the room all right everybody can you all agree on what you saw and if they all agree on what they saw the Nets the truth right because that's what they all agree on that's what they saw sometimes there are things that somebody saw that they don't agree with but they eliminate that yeah well that's not part of our discussion we agree on something though so sometimes truth is negotiated so what people don't realize truth can be negotiated so as a commission we have to deal with all of that we have to deal with the perceptions of people sometimes the perceptions are faulty we have to deal with the beliefs of people sometimes beliefs are not founded in fact sometimes they're founded on hearsay their founded on things that people heard or thought they heard so what is the truth is something that's really difficult we discussed as commissioners for example the question of should we put everybody under oath when they come to talk to us should we make them promise to tell the truth should we make them sign an oath that they will tell us the truth and we decided we wouldn't do that and the reason we wouldn't do that is I don't think it's gonna make a difference I really don't I think people are going to come and tell us honestly what they believed they saw or what they heard I don't think putting them under oath is gonna make a whit of difference to what they what they're gonna tell us and we tell people we want you to tell us the truth will you promise to tell us the truth they all promise to tell us the truth that's good enough for me I don't need to put them under oath for that because I can't punish them anyway I have no punishment authority I guess somebody could prosecute them if they came to us and testified under oath and said something that was alive but I'm not interested in that because overall I think the truth of the complete story of residential schools is going to come about because we consult everybody we're going to consult everybody and after consulting everybody then we will be able to determine the truth of residential schools the complete story of residential school and some of that is going to be made up by stories that people tell us about their individual experiences but when we've put forward those stories when we record them and put them into our archives we're always putting them in there from the perspective of this is what that person said we are not commenting upon it as being truthful or not truthful we're not saying that it is the truth or not the truth all we're saying is that this is what this person told us and sometimes if we get enough people telling us about a particular incident we will say that we think that is that it probably happened because a number of people who were there saw it and said that this is what happened but we're not so much concerned about particularly lated instances as we are can turned about patterns about the whole philosophy around the school and what the schools were meant to achieve and whether they achieved what they were set out to achieve or whether they in fact achieved something different that was unintended or otherwise so our approach to the truth is not the same approach that we would take that I would take if I were presiding over a trial for example as a judge barri conducting a trial as a judge then because of the rules of procedure that are applicable to that particular process I take a different approach but this is not the same approach it's not the same philosophy it's more of a reformative justice approach and the reformative justice approach when you take to resolving a difficulty that arises between people the reformative justice approach that you take is not necessarily determining what happened but what do people feel about what they think happened and now that we know how you feel about it what can we do about that what should we do about that I went down to in the course of doing my work as a commissioner with the AJ I back in the early part of your life and mine I went down to the Navajo Tribal Court to watch their work and they had established an interesting process using elders in the Navajo Nation in which they would refer cases to the elders the peacemaker court as he called it in which the elders would sit down with victims sometimes of very serious crimes and the perpetrators of those crimes and the understanding always was that the people agreed to come there sometimes even without admitting legal liability so they told us for example about a situation where a young woman had claimed that a young man had raped her and the tribal court with the consent of the parties referred that case to the peacemaker and the elders who presided there were three of them who presided over that they heard the complaint of the young woman who was sitting with all of her family when she gave her complaint and then they heard the version of the young man who was sitting with all of his family when he gave his version and there were two totally different versions of what had occurred but the elders did not resolve the issue by deciding who was telling the truth what they said was if you're telling the truth there is a great wrong here but even if you're telling the truth there is a great wrong here because somebody has accused you of something which you are denying so there's still something wrong here that we have to fix so how are we going to fix this what should we do to fix this that's the approach they take what should we do to fix this and so that's what the discussion is all about what should we do to fix it and in that particular instance the the two people who are directly involved in the instance they couldn't figure it out they couldn't work it out amongst themselves so what the elders said was okay you two step aside let's talk to your elders let's talk to the heads of your clan your parents and your grandparents let's ask them what do you think we should do to fix this and they worked out a solution involving the heads of the families in that in that particular case that everybody was happy with that everybody was satisfied with because the solution was one that they had worked out an agreement to death without resolving or deciding the question of what is the truth here and it was also because they did not take a punitive orientation although when you consider how much compensation was paid by one party to the other could have been considered as pretty punitive but it was a they worked out an arrangement that one clan would pay the other clan a certain price because of the nature of the claim that was made without admitting that anything had occurred that the other side was right but acknowledging that a great wrong had occurred so reformative justice doesn't necessarily require that you have to determine the truth of a particular allegation or the truth of the denial reformative justice requires that you have to identify what the problem is or what the problems are and see if you can work out a resolution of those problems because sometimes the problem is that people are saying different things about the same thing and now we have to figure that out and in a way that's the approach that we take as a commission as a commission we're taking a very strong reformative justice approach to this whole thing which is that regardless of what the perceptions are of people that people have about particular incidents the important thing is now we have an identified issue here the issue is is this and what can we do about that whether or not situations occurred in the schools of people alleged they occurred there's no doubt there's no doubt that there were things that went on in the schools that shouldn't have happened and there were harms caused to people that they suffered from and there was dysfunction created in the part on the part of families and family heads that resulted in children being hurt that resulted in families being hurt that resulted in communities being deprived of things so that's the problem now so we don't have to really determine whether or not that allegation is true but we need to determine now we've got this problem created by this cause so what do we do about how do we fix this and that leads us into a discussion about reconciliation what is reconciliation I sat down one day with my staff and we just made a list we came up with 156 definitions of reconciliation in English and then we decided well hailed it and hold it now this is not just a white man's issue right the issue of reconciliation also needs to be considered from the perspective of those in the communities that have to live with the consequences of residential schools so we have decided and we feel that we need to consult with traditional thinkers traditional keepers of the natural laws of the people in the Aboriginal community and ask them from a traditional perspective from the perspective of the Ojibwe what is reconciliation what does reconciliation mean what does reconciliation look like from the people and the lodges of the west coast we say to them what does reconciliation mean what are your teachings around reconciliation when you have a dispute and your communities between individuals or between clans or between people how do you resolve it what are your ceremonies about it what are your laws about this how do you keep peace in your community how do you make peace in your community how do you help people to overcome their differences of opinion to overcome their differences amongst each other how do you make it so that people can get along together as part of what reconciliation means in English does it mean the same thing in your language is there a word for reconciliation in your language we're asking them about this and I know from my knowledge of talking with elders and the ceremonies that I've been involved in I know there are words about these things that don't translate well and we know for example that there is no Aboriginal word and in almost all of the languages for guilty or not guilty or innocent because those are concepts that come from English common law and those concepts are founded upon a set of long-established legal principles and as a result of that there are things that people need to know before they can respond to the question but the reality is that if you can get to a concept about reconciliation then maybe there's a word and maybe there's a teaching about it then we can use so we've decided as a commission that we're going to engage with the traditional knowledge people of the Aboriginal community to ask them to help us because I can assure you we have just about every researcher in Canada who's got a proposal to do a contract for us and and from academic Canada and including some from the University of Manitoba but that's good it's good to know that there's that interest level out there but we also know that we have to consult with the traditional knowledge base as well so that we have again the complete story not only of residential schools but of what we do about it and I know that fundamentally there are teachings about that that we can benefit from as a commission and by doing that as a commission then we can engage the survivor community in understanding two very important things one is if they need to engage their traditional people in reconciling themselves with what has gone on then those people are there it will help to validate for those victims of residential school the fact that their cultures are still valid their cultures have always been valid we want people to know that so this is part of a validation process for the the Aboriginal survivors it's also a validation process for the rest of society because we want Canada to know that what they have tried to suppress and take away from the people and that they put in these schools was just as valid if not more valid just as valid as anything that European Canada had to offer and in doing that we hope that we can also contribute to reconciliation of this whole issue and the one thing that we have acknowledged as a commission is this we only have five years we have 60 million dollars a lot of money but I want you to know that our staff I've spent it three times over already in their wish lists so we know that we're not going to be able to do everything that that needs to be done we know that we're not going to have enough time to do everything at the end of five years we're not going to be in a state of reconciliation we hope though that we will have had a meaningful conversation between now and then and that that conversation can continue after we're done because that conversation out of all of this experience that conversation is the most important thing I know that all right let's deal with your questions send them all up on a ten dollar bill I'd be really happy to sir yes and they call it that we talk about often we do the same thing the laws they call it a part-time case it's unjust but here in Canada there seems to be a pressure to make it more balanced to not use the same method if I use the same method in Canada kids come to the conclusion that was genocide high school students and I'm quite interested that we're looking for the merit all the time in Canada and yet we would never ask the merit of Nazi Germany for the merit of this about philosophy so interested in here your take on that why we're kind of trying to decide what the merits of the Canadian position was these are the I'm not sure I used the word merit did I use the word merit I don't think I did I certainly wouldn't the I think I touched on it briefly when I said that that the the rationale behind the government's approach in Canada was founded on law and and the use of law validated everything that they did from a legal perspective and therefore in the eyes of Canadian society validated everything that Canada believed in the one thing I've said that we have to understand the of the legacy of residential schools was not only to teach indian children that the culture that they came from was inferior it also indirectly and directly taught non-indian children that their culture was superior so it it created an aura of racism without calling it racism certainly created an aura of superiority so that european canada or are white canada if i can use that expression has come to believe and the validity of their existence has come to believe in the validity of their cause has come to believe in the validity of what they are doing to indian people because canadian governments have passed in law this very belief and so to the extent that people have have tried to rationalize and justify what has been done it is because they say it must have been okay because the canadian government passed laws that said it was okay and you know we were taught in first-year law it's a very fundamental philosophy that that parliament can do no wrong right Parliament is supreme Parliament passes a law whatever the law says is legally correct and I made one of our profs is famous for saying he could pass a law declaring it all men or women and all women are men and that's the law and and therefore from that point forward that's the way it is so I think the point that that comes from that is that there are there is a strong group of people who who argue that the residential school philosophy would have been okay except for the abusers that got in there and but in reality they need to look at it from the perspective that it was inherently a racist philosophy that was inherently a racist approach to things and it does in fact well qualify within the definition of genocide as utilized by the United Nations yes sir sir is great I just want to ask you a question didn't listen to talking to the various parties and the situation of that and their approach of taking in you know the child if we're talking about reconciliation we're talking about residential schools which no longer existed but is the situation that founded the residential schools that is taking the amount of the child is that a historical event or is that still went on because I heard something really disturbing at the university when he defended powwow where Lloyd Axworthy was speaking and they were honoring the officer of April Raintree talking about Aboriginal children into care and blood acts are they said there is many Aboriginal children in care at this moment as there were in residential schools and that was just an astounding statement to me is this same old thing all over that is our Aboriginal fairness inferior therefore we've got a pretender children who take money situations I think we need to look at what what those statistics really tell us in terms of children and care hmm I said well I was asked a few years ago about what's been the impact of the a ji and I said well we have more Aboriginal youth locked up than we did back in 1991 when we reported on the situation and part of that is attributable to the increased population of Aboriginal youth and the number of young families that are that are out there and in particular single-parent families and we also have more children in care and part of its attributable to the same reason hmm but in addition to that with respect to children in care I think it's also attributable to the fact that we have now more Aboriginal child welfare agencies run by Aboriginal organizations and we've ever had and the approach that has been taken by those agencies has been more in line with working with the family of the child to see if they can find a placement for the child that is that is closer to the family are more connected to the family and one of the direct results of that is that families are less resistant to allowing the children to go into care and are working more cooperatively with agencies to to ask for help and that includes putting their children and to care one of the crazy things about the child welfare system is in order to get help from an agency you have to surrender your child to them they may put the child back in your house and allow the child to stay with you but statistically that child is now a child welfare ward of the agency and may be living with you may be living with their grandmother may be living with her Auntie may be living with the old rather an older sister but they're now statistically a child in care so the numbers of children and care have gone up I think it's probably because there are more child welfare agencies who are working with families to accomplish that kind of a that kind of an end to maintain to allow children to be maintained in the community and maintained in the family and I suspect that's attributable that's that's that's a large part of the reason for children and care I think it's probably true to say that the child welfare services in Manitoba are less focused upon our culture ation than they were back in the days of the Winnipeg Children's Aid Society when the approach was to take the children out of the family and send them to the States and we know that that was that occurred because there was an inherently racist view that children should be taken away from these environments totally and should be placed with white middle-class families wherever you can find them and and raised in those in that environment because it'll be a lot better off now the philosophy is that he has children need to be taken away from families or parents who can't care for them but placed in a different environment so I think that's probably one of the reasons why we have more children in care which is not to say that that's the good reason we shouldn't have any children and care families should be in a situation where they can take care of them but we have a huge set of issues in the Aboriginal community not the least of which is that about 80 percent of the population of Aboriginal people are under the age twenty-five and that population that that huge we have the reverse of the baby boomers right the baby boomers are now getting into the 50s and 60s in Canadian society baby boomers in an Aboriginal society are under 25 so we got a different population I don't going on and that population of young Aboriginal kids are having babies and they're their birth rate is four to six times the birth rate of the equivalent population and non-aboriginal society and part of that is attributable to they were raised in dysfunctional families and they were raised in an environment which they they did not have good social controls at play and so I think we can expect to see that that's going to continue that way until we're able to address the economic needs of those populations and in urban areas too because we know that more than 50% of Aboriginal people now live in urban areas in Manitoba anyway so until we address those needs properly I think we're going to see that and see those numbers continue to rise there is no morality and law laws morally neutral morally what happened to Aboriginal people in the residential schools I think I've told you that what occurred was wrong I don't know if there's anything more immoral and morally clear than that just something you want me to talk about this no no I just saw at some point I would think that even within the report did you writing there have to be the morality of what occurred kind of speaks for itself in the sense that when you look at the consequences of what was done I think that there are some things that needn't be said and then we don't I mean it's it's a simple statement to say that what occurred was morally wrong because it was it was found on a racist philosophy but I mean I can only say that so many ways in so many different times before it becomes a little a little almost you almost become numb to the word or numb to the issue I think that pointing out the consequences are really are really an indication of the immorality of the whole thing but I think that so many people in that that will be reading have done going have drawbacks oh I think the opening line of the report will be pretty clear hold that there was a there was a fellow over here was waving at me and I lecture oh there is they may teach children were not we're not bound by law the maytee families are not bound by law to send their children there but they were bound by a code that was probably stronger than a law and that's a religious belief so I don't think they had a hope and Haley getting out of those skills to be honest it literally words that you mentioned that captured I have lots to talk to you but actually what you're Brendan's Madeleine it's really I think it's like story in the taxi but as you're collecting stories from across the country and what I heard you say is well the truth is actually a point of the truth to me growing up and speaking edition of their language is the truth there's nothing else there's no the other part about reconciliation and the shock of language field we have a word precipitous mana we sit and what's contained in that word is letting go and moving on moving forward with the person that you are wanting to be reconciled with because you're in a relationship we grow up in small communities and that the next day that you would see that person and be newly with them so we used I heard this word right off mana which you could ask my friends see that's what it needs to let go and move on and move forward even in our thinking but not to think badly about people or not to speak badly because we create that in the future not certainly there's nothing comes from this program in the language that okay thank you yep under a traditional person a feeling because traditional First Nations people we have our spiritual laws which are creators laws every time we're dealing with stuff without the rich Moser reports it's two legged lava so I'm always wondering above anything's ever happened to ever media ask me in five years I hope to find out yes I'm sorry I didn't quite hear everything all right the question of forgiveness that you're raised in oh yeah reconciliation forgiveness hmm yeah I said I'd talk a little bit about it thanks for raising it forgiveness is an important concept in in the healing in the healing field and and so we can't understate its importance I think we need to keep it in mind as we go forward because for some people in order to maintain a relationship in order to keep your relationship together you need to engage in an act of forgiveness in order to maintain that relationship so part of what goes on is that if if you are if you have been in a relationship with somebody and something is done that is a breach of that relationship in some way whether it's a an act of violence or it's a breach of trust of some kind and it and it causes that relationship to be damaged then if you are both committed to restoring that relationship to the way it was there has to be an act of forgiveness in order for that relationship to continue however if you are not interested in maintaining the relationship anymore then you can move into a different kind of relationship without having the same relationship but it's a different relationship and that relationship can continue without there being an act of forgiveness and that's the that's why I say that to the extent that people say that there has to be there's a requirement to forgive before you can move on I'm not sure that I agree with that and one of the reasons is because as a judge I presided in domestic court with victims of violence who come forward all the time and talked about their victimization primarily women who talk about having been physically beaten by their husbands and/or their boyfriends I sometimes by their children and and so I know that that the the the people who talk to the judges the people who train the judges about how to deal with these situations in court will say that the one thing as judges we must never say to these to these victims is well you know in order for for me to know whether how to sentence this person do you forgive him you know or if you forgive him then the sentence will be different and and it was easy for us at the beginning to to kind of skip past that into to be influenced by somebody saying well I forgive him so therefore don't send him to jail because sometimes that statement of forgiveness was not really meant it wasn't it was more coerced than and it's and being able to determine when that occurs is is very difficult for us so sometimes we place too much emphasis on the issue of forgiveness as judges and so we kind of learned to put that issue aside and so not only did we not respond to it when it was offered but we also learned not to seek it not to ask about it not to ask for it because sometimes we found some sometimes I found I shouldn't say we I can tell you only from personal experience sometimes I would think that maybe there are some things that are just not forgivable but that doesn't mean that as an individual that you're always going to be bound to the situation it may be that you're able to put it past and move on but that you don't have you're not you don't forgive the person for what they've done to you you don't have to forgive in order to be able to move on I believe I believe that bought at a personal level because I can I can function that way people have done things and said things to and about me that I don't forgive them for but I can move on I don't need to be stuck there carrying that burden around I can forget about it and still get on with my life but and for others I'm sure it's the same so to say to somebody that in order for you to heal in order for you to get past this as a human being you need to forgive I think puts them a burden on people that we shouldn't be putting on them and in particular for survivors the question of whether they should forgive the government or forgive the churches adds a different kind of component to the issue of forgiveness that I wonder about because one of the elders that we asked this very question of when we got into a discussion about forgiveness he says according to our teaching or the way that I understand it he says you can't forgive something that doesn't have a soul doesn't have a spirit you can't forgive a wall you can't forgive a car that runs you down you can't forgive a cliff that you fall off of you can't forgive something that doesn't have a soul because if it's it's the soul of the other thing that you're that you're communicating with it's the way he talks and and when you look at it from that perspective and he said you can't forgive an institution because an institution is not what did it it's the people in the institution you can forgive the people you can forgive a person but you can't forgive an institution so for people to stand up and say I forgive the government for establishing residential schools it makes me wonder what is it that you're forgiving are you forgiving sir Johnny McDonald for coming up with the idea are you forgiving Duncan Campbell Scott for implementing it are you forgiving all of these teachers who abuse all of these students who were not you but other people hmm what are you forgiving I think people need to think about that so forgiving an institution I'm not sure is is even a worthwhile conversation but I think it is important for individuals to to ask themselves whether they need to forgive in order to be able to move on and if they feel they can without doing that I'm not going to require it of them I'm not going to say to somebody well you know in order to be healed boy you better you better be prepared to stake you forget – there – that I disagree with Bishop tutu I disagree with his writings in his approach but there is merit to what he says that sometimes until you're able to put that in a proper place for yourself sometimes you are still burdened by the pain of not forgiving I understand that and and but people need to understand that for themselves and they have to address it for themselves and and so but but as a commissioner as someone in the position that I'm in it's not for me to require and I don't require it and I would not participate in any situation which requires it I certainly don't see any difficulty in participating in a ceremony or in any event with people who are ready and willing and able to forgive and I've done that and I don't I don't mind that but as a commissioner I would not require it of anybody as a judge I wouldn't require it of anybody and and I so I think it's for each individual to address in his or her own way but it is it is important for some people I accept that and I'm not negating it I'm just saying that from our perspective as a commission it's not part of our approach when you'll be able to comment on what we might call the Paulette of AGI hh8 the young people in jail we spend a lot of their time on the street now and who the law still punishes when probably somebody else who should be punished in those situations you have you have a license to talk about that like what the follow no hey I have a license to talk about peace okay so I got a pretty big license in I'm just wondering whether we this generation is going to carry a burden I was talking with a group of survivors in stole oh I think about six months ago mmm and and one of the things that I said to them at that time which and I really believe this to be true I said to them because and having and going around the circle listening to what they had to say in hearing their stories and in hearing about their anger and their frustration and their pain one of the things I said to them is what is something I've now said to many other survivor groups and it's this we must understand that the residential school experience is not just about you it's not just about you and your experience in the school and your victimization well in the schools the residential school experience is also about your children and your grandchildren and your children yet to be born because they are living the legacy – they are living the legacy because when you came out of the school as a student you went and had a family and you raised that family in a particular way and the way that you raised your family was a direct was directly impacted by the way that you had been affected by the schools and sometimes that was not a good way and so your children lived the consequences of your behavior which you learned in the school and sometimes that cycle of violence was repeated in the homes we know that and so we we talk I talk to the survivors about that and and and hopefully get them to understand that it's important for them when we have survivor gatherings to involve their families in those discussions because many survivors have never told their their family members about their experiences and and it's it's not it's not something that they can be criticized for because I think it's a difficult conversation to have at the best of times but it's like asking veterans to talk about you know what happened to them in the war it's very difficult for them to do that and and I think we shouldn't we shouldn't have expected that they might have done that with families but at the same time I say that they have an obligation and what I say to the to the to their children and grandchildren when I'm talking to those groups is that you need to think about what can you do for your parent who is a survivor or your grandparent who is a survivor is there something that they have done to you that you need to say to them this is something that's occurred and do you need now to understand better can you now understand better why it is that things have gone on in your home and the way that they have because maybe that will help you with your anger and and we get when we have the youth groups who are coming in and talk to them about that we get an amazing reaction from them a realization that that isn't necessarily always their parents fault so getting that having that discussion is very important yes sir is still ongoing and I understand that we have their generation now I guess what I'm trying to resolve here is Canadians in general and Aboriginal people education public education etc and the relationship as it stands today in terms of reconciliation I guess how can the truth and reconciliation begin to implement or have an influence on Canadian society especially with regards to the education system I commend the teacher that's here today who took the initiative to come out here but clearly I can see that still a couple of things we need to understand that we've gone through about a hundred and forty years or so of this experience and and and and it's taken that appeared I'd like the time you if not longer if you think back to a period of time before Confederation as well there was a period of oppression that occurred and was going on but we've got that long period of racial intolerance that was part of the Canadian scene that has had the impact that we now see that it's having and if we say that that that period of time is what we now have to overcome and we realized that it's much easier to destroy something it is to rebuild it then I think we need to factor in that it's going to take us longer to fix this that it's gonna take us a lot more 150 years to fix this I think what we need to talk about at this point in time is what's the path on which we want to go what's the objective that we want to achieve and and now we need to empower our our youth to to be able to start that conversation in our absence because we're not going to be around much longer we have to get the conversation going and so part of it answer is in fact to change the way that children are educated I think I think we need to change the curriculum materials we need to add to the curriculum materials to ensure that the curriculum materials mandatorily include information about this so that every child is educated to understand that this has been part of the history we need to take an approach that is similar to the approach that the german government took following the Holocaust in Germany in which they publicly took steps to ensure that everybody understood the horror of what had been done and that the ability to deny the validity of the truth of that was taken away from the deniers and while that may be heavy-handed in effect it allows the conversation to start at a much further place along the road rather than having to reprove it every time that you get engaged in the conversation so I could see for exam if we didn't have that kind of an approach that in 30 or 40 years from now long after I'm gone that there would have to be another commission that would have to be held in which it would have to be re-established in fact that we did have residential schools at one time and that explains why those children in the future are having the difficulties that they have so rather than repeat this every three or four generations I think the better course is that publicly as a country I think we need to do certain things to memorialize this and ensure that the story of it is forever embedded in our memories so that we can build on that for the future and that includes things like we have to have proper recognition of it in our education materials we have to ensure that our children are given this information in a fair and balanced way but in an accurate way about what has gone on so that we can have a better understanding as we go forward and the ultimate objective mmm I think that we need to think about and and and this is a very general term but the ultimate objective should be that we should look to establish a relationship that would have been the case if this had not been done now that's a very vague description of an objective I understand that but if this had not occurred if this history of racism had not been part of our discussion and not been part of our conduct if the relationship had been founded on the principles of respect and and mutuality that was reflected in the treaties for example then what would our relationship be today and and that's a that's an area of speculation I think that we should embark upon in order to address the question of what do we need to do to get there because that's the question I think what would we have today if we have not gone through this and that's a very it's a difficult concept to get your head around because you have to have imagination and the one thing we know that the education system has done particularly law school is it's driven imagination right out of your head alright he's taught you not to imagine taught you to believe in the principles of dogma but this is the way things happen and this is why they happen and this is the way things should happen what we need to do is to begin to to use our imagination about those things and then if we can if we can speculate in a good way then we can build towards those things I think that's important education said there have been some people talking about

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