So many wonderful Canadians here trc.ca… as Honourary Witnesses….. Andy Scott, Shelia Fraser, Shelagh Rogers, Barbara Hall… it is so clear that Reconciliation will only be possible when all Canadians truly understand.
Tonight I was invited to speak at the Call to Gather to give an Expression of Reconciliation and to place a copy of my Motion 402 in the Memory Box.
Click here for video of my statement:
Click here for video of the full Call to Gather ceremony.
“I acknowledge the traditional territory of the Treaty 6 First Nations and the Elders and the Chiefs present here tonight.
It is a tremendous honour for me to be invited to speak this evening at the Call to Gather and deliver an Expression of Reconciliation. I have been truly moved by the poignant testimony of the survivors and their families at the Toronto hearings and here in Saskatoon today. As a family physician, I am deeply grateful for the truly intense work of the Commissioners in what we know is indeed a therapeutic process.
I have been truly inspired by the interim report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – particularly that
“Canadians have been denied a full and proper education as to the nature of Aboriginal societies, and the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.’
I believe that my expression of reconciliation is to redouble our efforts to work with First Nations, Inuit and Metis in Canada to right this wrong and advocate every day to eradicate the ignorance of non-aboriginal Canadians in Canada.
We must urgently work to the goal that by next year, the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation, most Canadians would fully understand the original government to government relationship between the Crown and First Nations.
Canadians must also recognize how the historic injustices of the Indian Act and residential schools created the systemic barriers to progress and economic prosperity that have created unacceptable gaps in outcomes for health, education, housing and access to basic rights like adequate food and safe, clean, drinkable water.
Canadians need to know and fully understand the intergenerational trauma that was caused by residential schools and its deleterious effects on mental health and parenting.
A formal apology by the Prime Minister of Canada to the survivors of residential schools will never be sufficient until all Canadians fully understand what it was about and until everything possible has been done to foster the healing necessary for all those directly and indirectly affected.
It is only through greater understanding of the shared past and ongoing consitutional, historical and treaty relationships that Canada will be able to move forward in a true partnership based upon consultation, collaboration and accommodational, to ensure the health, equality of opportunity and lasting prosperity for Aboriginal people in Canada.
I am pleased to be able to place in the memory box, a copy of my Motion 402 , which was placed on the Notice Paper yesterday, and although denied unanimous consent Wednesday night calls upon the government -
June 20, 2012 — Ms. Bennett (St. Pauls) – That this House agrees with the findings of the Interim Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that, “Canadians have been denied a full and proper education as to the nature of Aboriginal societies, and the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples”; that this House believes that the federal government must take an active role in promoting awareness and public education to Canadians about this history generally and the residential school system and its impacts on Aboriginal Canadians specifically; that this House call on this government to consult with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Canadians to implement a federal funding program for public-education campaigns, and the development of curricula, to inform the general public about the key role the First Peoples have played in our shared history; that these campaigns or curricula specifically deal with the tragic impact of the residential school system on both Aboriginal culture and current social challenges; that provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments, as well as other non-profit and community-based organizations, will have access to this program to educate non-Aboriginals about these important issues.
Today in the Town Hall so brilliantly chaired by Shelagh Rogers, Justice Sinclair said that often people ask ” Why didn’t we know ?” and that he answers ” because it is Canada’s secret of shame”
Tonight we look forward to a day when Canada’s Secret of Shame … is a secret no more… a day when all Canadians hearts go out to the survivors… a day when all Canadians are truly ashamed and sorry for this terrible chapter in our history.
Tonight we call upon all Canadians to become truly engaged citizens that will call their governments to account – not only to ensure that the commitments made in the Prime Minister’s apology are honoured … but also that they insist that their provincial and territorial governments make the changes in the school curricula as recommended in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Interim Report.