It’s a cool, overcast Sunday morning, and thousands have gathered at the École secondaire de l’Île in Gatineau, Quebec to participate in the Walk for Reconciliation.
The closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada have officially begun. The theme of the opening day is “we are all in this together,” an idea perfectly symbolized by this diverse and well-attended gathering.
“It was absolutely exhilarating,” says Reconciliation Canada Ambassador Chief Robert Joseph. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he notes, has been six years in the making. Many years before there even was a TRC, survivors were working toward this day.
At the end of the Walk for Reconciliation, in the plaza of Ottawa City Hill, Chief Joseph is looking forward. He has been looking forward for decades now, dreaming of the day when survivors’ stories have been heard across Canada. It was “so moving to be there,” he says. “So powerful and compelling. The TRC report has laid bare the truth of the residential schools and legitimized the truth that we’ve all been taking about.”
The media are all here. So are Canadians from all walks of life. The mood of the participants is positive and hopeful. Chief Joseph gives a speech that concludes by saying that reconciliation “begins with you—so the call goes out to you this day to join in the journey of reconciliation.” His brief but powerful speech is followed by music and dancing. Inside Ottawa’s city hall, the residential school Witness Blanket has been installed. People gather around it, sharing their stories.
The first Walk for Reconciliation took place in Vancouver during the TRC British Columbia National Event in September 2013. Its purpose was to transform and renew the very essence of relationships among Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians—to find a new way forward in our relationships with each other. Following the success of this Walk, co-hosted by Reconciliation Canada and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, discussions were undertaken with the TRC Commissioners to have a similar event in Ottawa. Everyone agreed that this was a great idea.
Reconciliation Canada is honoured to have had this opportunity. We express our gratitude to the many people of goodwill who participated, and who also joined survivors in gestures of solidarity all across Canada. The Walk was a simple but profound expression of caring for one another. “I was just really moved,” reflected Chief Joseph. “All of this work has culminated in something that will allow us to redefine this country, hopefully with other Canadians.”
We at Reconciliation Canada acknowledge and honour the courage and resilience of survivors whose unwavering commitment to truth, healing and reconciliation made the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission possible.
Reconciliation will mean many things to many people. It will be big. It will be small. It will be simple. It will be complex. But remember this—it all begins with you.
The Walk for Reconciliation was co-hosted by Reconciliation Canada and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The Walk for Reconciliation was funded by:
Reconciliation Canada's expression of gratitude and acknowledgement of TRC Summary Report
The TRC’s Findings and Recommendations confront the disparity between typical Canadian historical perspectives and Aboriginal reality, bringing light to the Aboriginal truth in Canada -- a truth of harm experienced for generations in the Indian residential school system.
Canada owes the TRC commissioners a huge debt of gratitude. The Findings and Recommendations create an opportunity for real change for all Canadians. It provides the potential to educate and provide context for dialogue among governments, private institutions and citizens alike. Moreover, the Findings and Recommendations provide a strong foundation upon which any organization can move forward on reconciliation.
For Reconciliation Canada, the TRC Findings and Recommendations highlight the importance of continuing the work we began three years ago. Our initiatives support the TRC Recommendations in many areas, including education, training and public awareness. Reconciliation is a long journey and there is much work to do.
Through partnership building and working with community organizations, faith-based groups, businesses and governments, we will continue to create a safe space for Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians to engage in meaningful dialogue.
Together, we are charting a New Way Forward.
Reconciliation Canada Receives Generous Funding Support from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) as a Result of TRC Final Report
We are excited to announce that Reconciliation Canada has received $768,000 in funding from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). The announcement was made by the Honorable Minister Bernard Valcourt in response to the summary report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) delivered on May 31 in Ottawa.
This funding will be used to bring together leadership across the nation – elders, youth and adults -- to begin to define reconciliation from a national perspective.
“This AANDC funding creates a good starting point for Reconciliation Canada to advance the work laid out in the TRC report. We will continue our commitment to bringing Canadians from all walks of life together in a process of healing and reconciliation, ” said Chief Dr. Robert Joseph.
We are extremely grateful for the generosity of AANDC and we are excited for the opportunities that this funding provides.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Closing Events
Reconciliation Canada is proud to have co-hosted events in Ottawa, ON and Vancouver, BC to coincide with the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for in depth coverage of these events.
Reconciliation Matters: Community Street Fair and Ecumenical Reconciliation Service. This event was a collaboration between City of Vancouver, Central Presbyterian Church, Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, First Baptist Church, St. Andrews-Wesley United Church, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, Anglican and United Church Archives and Reconciliation Canada.
Help us move forward with our 2015 initiatives
Reconciliation Canada has many national initiatives and dialogue workshops planned for 2015. Help us move our initiatives forward by making a donation.
Reconciliation Canada - A New Way Forward Society is an Aboriginal-led, culturally diverse, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.
Some of our 2015 initiatives include:
Reconciliation Dialogue Sessions & Action Plans
Reconciliation-Based Leadership Training & Core Competencies Assessments