Reconciliation: What does it mean? (with described video)


Transcript - Reconciliation: What does it mean? - Described video

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  • On January 19, 2018, Health Canada hosted a panel discussion with Indigenous leaders and experts to discuss Reconciliation – What Does it Mean?
  • This video deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling a 24-Hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

[Archival photographs of children in residential schools.]

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  • More than 130 residential schools in Canada.
  • 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children.
  • 3,200 children died from tuberculosis, malnutrition and other diseases.
  • Last school closed in 1998.
  • Approximately 80,000 former students living today.


Dr. Abel Bosum, Grand Chief, Grand Council of the Crees of Northern Quebec:

"I was a survivor of the Indian residential school. I was put on a plane at the age of five and sent off to Brantford for a whole year. And then I ended up in La Tuque Residential School for nine years. That really separated me from my parents, from my culture, from the land. I had to go back and relearn my language, my culture, my ways. It does affect the people. It does affect the families and it takes years for healing."

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  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 2008 to bear witness to the impacts of residential schools and to facilitate reconciliation among former students and their families, their communities, governments and all Canadians.

[Archival footage of the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission lifting a ceremonial blanket off of a table, revealing the report.]

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  • More than 6,000 witnesses
  • 94 Calls to Action

Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission: "For reconciliation to work, and for our relationship to be renewed, there must be awareness, acceptance, apology, atonement and action."

[Inuit drummer performs before a panel discussion audience.]

Dr. Malcolm Saulis, Elder: "If you notice on the TRC logo, at least what I perceive, there is a circle of fire. In the analogy of that fire, ring of fire, you are the fire and I am the fire. And together we make the circle."

Dr. Valerie Gideon, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Services Canada: "We have an extremely distinguished list of guests here today. It is an absolute honour to be in the same room."

Simon Kennedy, Deputy Minister, Health Canada: "Today's Health Talks is about helping us all gain a better understanding of reconciliation, and how as Canadians and public servants we can live and work in ways that honour its intent."

Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health: "This of course is just one conversation in a dialogue that is underway; a dialogue that I have to say is very, very long overdue. We have an unprecedented opportunity to achieve reconciliation between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Now is the time to challenge previously held beliefs, and to invest in strong relationships."

Aaron, Public Servant: "I think today's going to be a very important conversation. I'm really looking forward to the dialogue to hear how we're going to continue to act on health and ensure that our Indigenous communities are first."

Nikki, Public Servant: "I'm so excited for this event. First of all I'm a First Nations public servant and it means a lot to me to see that the Health Portfolio is beginning to have these types of talks to discuss reconciliation and it's been a long time coming."

Bosum: "Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Cree Nation and Chairman of the Cree Regional Government.

“For me, reconciliation is about resetting the button. For me it's about looking at the past, acknowledging that we made mistakes in the past in all the different sectors, and resetting that button and starting to work together. You know, working on what the new government institutions should be, what the economic development partnership should be. So it's a new approach to going forward."

Brenda Reynolds, Former TRC Health Support Liaison: "My name is Brenda Reynolds, and I'm the former TRC health support liaison.

“One first girl came forward and spoke her truth about being sexually abused. The constable and I were interviewing and finding out what had happened. Seventeen times that happened that one night; seventeen girls disclosed. And I was a young social worker."

Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada: "My name is Cindy Blackstock. I am a member of the Gitxsan First Nation and I’m the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

“You know, reconciliation at its centre is really about, for me, fundamentally two things. It is about respect and it is about love."

Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: "Natan Obed, I'm the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

“Reconciliation is a really difficult concept for a lot of Canadians and it's a difficult concept for us as Indigenous Peoples as well. Because reconciliation isn't just about the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples in this country. It's also between generations of Indigenous Peoples. It's between families of Indigenous Peoples. There are a lot of things that have happened in the last 100 years that have driven us apart, things that we need to overcome."

Bosum: "Listening alone is not enough. And I think that we need to take action and there are different forms of action, individual, professionally and so forth."

Blackstock: "I would love to see political leaders give the public service not only permission but support and protection for being insubordinate to bad ideas. We need to stop dehumanizing the impacts through either the creation of acronyms, files, that type of thing. And we need to recalibrate our relationship so it’s out of that "savage" and "civilized" dichotomy."

Reynolds: "Reconciliation doesn't happen when we're all the same colour at the table. It happens when there are different cultures and a diversity within the Indigenous people. As speakers sitting here we all come from different tribes and different parts of Canada. And that should be reflected when you're looking at developing policies."

Obed: "This is an ulu. This is an Inuit woman's knife. This item is Inuit-specific, but it is also evidence-based. It's also globally informed. The idea is that you don't question it. This is ours, we've made it and it is a symbol of Inuit culture today in 2018. So I want to make a deal with you. The same principle that you've blindly given me for this, that you can also apply to your work, that when you work with Inuit, you accept that when we come to the table with positions, they're Inuit-specific, they're evidence-based, and they're globally informed."

Blackstock: "Today we have the capability, we have the leadership and God help us we have the money to say to First Nations kids – you are worth the money, you are worth the sacrifice, you're worth us taking down whatever red tape gets in the way of you having a proper childhood – because we can't say sorry again.

I've seen lots of governments come and go but you all stay around, and if you're able to entrench that spirit of reconciliation by respecting us and falling in love with our kids and making sure that you're really standing up for the public, that reason that you got into the public service in the first place, then a lot of these mistakes from the past won't keep happening, and a lot of kids will grow up to have a healthy and happy childhood for the first time in the history of this country, because of you."

Sylvie, Public Servant: "Most important is love and compassion."

Jolene, Public Servant: "…to remember as a public servant that reconciliation isn't just about the legal piece and the briefing notes, but it's also about putting a human lens on things."

Petitpas Taylor: "To me I guess the message that I learned today – we all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation. Our employees are the ones that prepare briefs and provide us with information and it's important that they provide us with that proper information and also play that challenge function role that I think is really important to empower our public service to be able to do that."

Obed: "Part of this is this new partnership, and trying to figure out how to speak the same language, and what we're all trying to achieve together."

[Inuit drummer.]

[Elder holds up a feather.]

[Health Canada and Government of Canada logos.]

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