Reconciliation is a complex subject. Though it is defined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) as the establishment and maintenance of a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across Canada, it can take on many subjective and personal meanings. Whatever reconciliation might mean to you, it’s hard to talk about without acknowledging why respect and trust broke down in the first place, why it needs to be repaired, and the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma. Though this is a difficult subject, it’s one we believe is critical to address as we look to strengthen our communities.
The residential school system is a dark chapter in Canada’s history, and people are now becoming more aware of what occurred for the 100+ years that the schools were in operation. The TRC, which was established to document the history and impacts of this institution, released a multi-volume report in 2015 that shed new light on the Indigenous experience, and described what occurred under it as “cultural genocide.” As United Way actively works to advance reconciliation in our local community through an Indigenous strategy that aims to strengthen Indigenous cultural identity and support in healing, we encourage you to test your level of awareness around the residential school system and become more informed about its impact on Indigenous people across Canada.