Support for the Final Report Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Coming to Terms


We the undersigned scholars, researchers, teachers, and other members of the engaged Canadian public wish, in the strongest possible terms, to express our appreciation for the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. We also want to acknowledge our profound debt to the Survivors and intergenerational Survivors whose stories the TRC seeks to tell. We particularly want to draw attention to the enormous amount of careful research and painful testimony that informs the TRC’s conclusions, and we urge Canadians to seriously examine the summary of the TRC’s final report available at:

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf.

This is a crucial moment in Canadian history, one with the potential to transform the relationship between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. The effects of the Indian Residential School (IRS) system are implicit in the various Calls to Action made by the TRC in its final report, and we call upon the Government of Canada as well as all provincial, territorial and municipal governments to act within the full scope of their power to acknowledge IRS harms and to work to redress them. We also call upon the country’s political parties to consider incorporating the TRC’s recommendations into their respective platforms. The indifferent and sometimes hostile response in some quarters to the recent release of the executive summary of the TRC’s final report underscores the point made in that document that “The relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is not a mutually respectful one.” Like the TRC’s commissioners, we think we can, and need, to do better.

Admitting the genocidal character of European settler-colonial assimilation policies and practices is a necessary first step. Although we acknowledge that there were many different experiences of IRS life, and that not all those who went to these schools view themselves as destroyed by the IRS system, we nevertheless understand that this system as a whole was predicated on the desire to resolve the “Indian problem” by deliberately acting to weaken the bonds holding Aboriginal nations and communities together. For much of their history Canada’s IRS’s worked to alienate Aboriginal peoples from their languages and cultures with the goal of eradicating both, a process that was furthered by the removal of Aboriginal children and youth from their families, communities, and lands.


In the wake of the TRC’s efforts we urge all Canadian governments and public institutions, including schools, post-secondary institutions, along with the Canadian media, to promote education about Canada’s IRS system. Much more can be done to teach Canadians about Aboriginal history, culture, and worldviews as they relate not only to the past, but also to contemporary challenges we collectively face. We ask that more resources be devoted to promoting reasoned discussions of Aboriginal issues, including language rights, the honouring of treaties, and persistent socio-economic inequalities. We further urge that the perspectives of Survivors be included in all such initiatives. We believe that as a result of these discussions progress may be made towards reconciliation, and a clearer and widely shared picture will form of what constitutes substantive and meaningful restitution.

So far, there has been much debate based upon assumptions about the content of the TRC’s executive summary, and comparatively very little attention paid to the years of community activism and memory work, Survivor resilience and courage, and scholarly effort that went in to the document’s drafting. While there may exist multiple interpretations of any historical record, and respectful discussion of these interpretations remains vital, the TRC’s summary provides a detailed and careful account of Canadian history rooted in a thorough examination of available sources that includes, but is not limited to: 6,750 statements from survivors; 96 interviews with former IRS staff and the children of staff; and an enormous written archive that the TRC had twice to go to court to access. The TRC’s research builds upon decades of scholarly and community research into the history of the IRS system, and via agencies such as the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation located at the University of Manitoba it will contribute substantially to our understanding of residential schools and the nature of Canadian society for decades to come.

In short, we urge Canada and all Canadians – actively and with a view to our collective and enduring responsibility for a long history of cultural and physical violence as well as embedded structural racism – to read and reflect deeply on the TRC’s final report. We have a duty to ensure that in light of its recommendations, Canada is transformed in such a way that justice for (and with) Aboriginal peoples and nations is achieved.

Coming to Terms



We the undersigned scholars, researchers, teachers, and other members of the engaged Canadian public wish, in the strongest possible terms, to express our appreciation for the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. We also want to acknowledge our profound debt to the Survivors and intergenerational Survivors whose stories the TRC seeks to tell. We particularly want to draw attention to the enormous amount of careful research and painful testimony that informs the TRC’s conclusions, and we urge Canadians to seriously examine the summary of the TRC’s final report available at:

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf.

This is a crucial moment in Canadian history, one with the potential to transform the relationship between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. The effects of the Indian Residential School (IRS) system are implicit in the various Calls to Action made by the TRC in its final report, and we call upon the Government of Canada as well as all provincial, territorial and municipal governments to act within the full scope of their power to acknowledge IRS harms and to work to redress them. We also call upon the country’s political parties to consider incorporating the TRC’s recommendations into their respective platforms. The indifferent and sometimes hostile response in some quarters to the recent release of the executive summary of the TRC’s final report underscores the point made in that document that “The relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is not a mutually respectful one.” Like the TRC’s commissioners, we think we can, and need, to do better.

Admitting the genocidal character of European settler-colonial assimilation policies and practices is a necessary first step. Although we acknowledge that there were many different experiences of IRS life, and that not all those who went to these schools view themselves as destroyed by the IRS system, we nevertheless understand that this system as a whole was predicated on the desire to resolve the “Indian problem” by deliberately acting to weaken the bonds holding Aboriginal nations and communities together. For much of their history Canada’s IRS’s worked to alienate Aboriginal peoples from their languages and cultures with the goal of eradicating both, a process that was furthered by the removal of Aboriginal children and youth from their families, communities, and lands.



In the wake of the TRC’s efforts we urge all Canadian governments and public institutions, including schools, post-secondary institutions, along with the Canadian media, to promote education about Canada’s IRS system. Much more can be done to teach Canadians about Aboriginal history, culture, and worldviews as they relate not only to the past, but also to contemporary challenges we collectively face. We ask that more resources be devoted to promoting reasoned discussions of Aboriginal issues, including language rights, the honouring of treaties, and persistent socio-economic inequalities. We believe that as a result of these discussions progress may be made towards reconciliation, and a clearer and widely shared picture will form of what constitutes substantive and meaningful restitution.

So far, there has been much debate based upon assumptions about the content of the TRC’s executive summary, and comparatively very little attention paid to the years of community activism and memory work, Survivor resilience and courage, and scholarly effort that went in to the document’s drafting. While there may exist multiple interpretations of any historical record, and respectful discussion of these interpretations remains vital, the TRC’s summary provides a detailed and careful account of Canadian history rooted in a thorough examination of available sources that includes, but is not limited to: 6,750 statements from survivors; 96 interviews with former IRS staff and the children of staff; and an enormous written archive that the TRC had twice to go to court to access. The TRC’s research builds upon decades of scholarly and community research into the history of the IRS system, and via agencies such as the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation located at the University of Manitoba it will contribute substantially to our understanding of residential schools and the nature of Canadian society for decades to come.

In short, we urge Canada and all Canadians – actively and with a view to our collective and enduring responsibility for a long history of cultural and physical violence as well as embedded structural racism – to read and reflect deeply on the TRC’s final report. We have a duty to ensure that in light of its recommendations, Canada is transformed in such a way that justice for (and with) Aboriginal peoples and nations is achieved.

Update #310 months ago
Hello Everyone,

A belated update: at the end of August the petition was sent to the PMO, Minister Valcourt, as well as to every Canadian MP, MLA, senator, and to the mayors of major cities that are currently in office. Thank you for your support. We will keep it open in hopes that more will sign on and give their support to the TRC and the Survivors who came forward to share their testimony.
Update #211 months ago
In consultation with a group of Survivors, we added: "We further urge that the perspectives of Survivors be included in all such initiatives" to emphasize that Survivors must be involved in the implementation of the TRC recommendations and not left aside after bravely providing their testimony.

We have postponed sending the petition out to focus on gathering more signatures. We now plan to distribute the petition in mid-August. Thank you for your support and patience.
Update #1about a year ago
Hi Everyone,

We're going to send the petition to various media outlets and government offices on July 16th, 2015.

Please distribute the petition one more time through your networks so we can bring forward the maximum number of signatures and show our support for the Summary Report and Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada! We are near 1200 signatures now, but want to reach 2000 by July 16th.
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