CLC statement on Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee has released its report on the residential school system that Aboriginal children – including Metis and Inuit children – were forced to attend. The program started in the 1870’s and continued until the last schools were closed in the 1990’s.
All findings point to “cultural genocide”
Evidence shows that the government tried to eliminate the culture and language of Canada’s indigenous people for well over a hundred years. They did so by forcibly removing children from their families and placing them in institutions that the Commission has characterized as cultural indoctrination centres.
The Canadian Labour Congress stands in solidarity with the victims of the residential school system and calls on all levels of government to adopt and implement every one of the Commission’s recommendations.
Justice Murray Sinclair, who was Manitoba's first aboriginal judge, said one estimate made in the early part of the 20th century was that 24 to 42 per cent of Aboriginal children who attended the residential schools died at school or shortly after leaving school. The findings point to a ‘cultural genocide’ of Aboriginal peoples.
“The Commission’s research into the abuse, deaths and mental degradation of Aboriginal children must be taken seriously by all levels of government, as well as the Canadian public,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.
“Now Canada, and all Canadians, have a responsibility to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented and everything possible is done to ensure meaningful reconciliation.”
On May 31, in anticipation of the report release, CLC officers, Barb Byers and Donald Lafleur marched with 10,000 staff, affiliates, union retirees and other Canadians in the Walk for Reconciliation in Ottawa.
The CLC has a strong relationship with the Aboriginal community and will continue to work with labour’s Aboriginal committees and working groups to ensure all levels of government implement the report’s recommendations.
In addition to continuing to support Aboriginal workers, the CLC will incorporate the Commission’s findings into our educational and other resources.