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Utopian Discourses Across Cultures

Scenarios in Effective Communication to Citizens and Corporations

Edited By Miriam Bait, Marina Brambilla and Valentina Crestani

The term Utopia, coined by Thomas More in 1516, contains an inherent semantic ambiguity: it could be read as eu topos (good place) or ou topos (no place). The authors of this volume analyze this polysemous notion and its fascination for scholars across the centuries, who have developed a variety of visions and ways to explain the «realization» of utopian discourses. The experts in the fields of sociology, political science, economics, computer science, literature and linguistics offer extensive studies about how utopian scenarios are realized in different cultural contexts.

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The Release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Findings on Indian Residential Schools in Canada, 2 June 2015

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Claudia Gualtieri

The Release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Findings on Indian Residential Schools in Canada, 2 June 20151

But for those thinking about what they could do now, here are three suggestions: (1) Read the TRC findings. […] (2) Challenge colonial thinking. […] (3) Listen to indigenous leaders, including survivors. […] By listening and learning, by beginning to travel that road, we can work together to make the changes our society desperately needs.

Jocelyn Thrope2

1.  Introduction: Theory and Controversial Issues

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada held its closing event in Ottawa from May 31–June 3, 2015. On June 2, a summary of the Commissioners’ findings on Indian3 residential schools was released in an official ceremony that was broadcasted in major cities across the country. In Ottawa, starting on May 31, the calendar of events was dense, meaningful, and moving. It included community actions of remembering, reconciliation, learning, and celebration, which reached its high point on June 3. This paper looks at this ground-breaking moment in contemporary Canadian history marked by the release of the TRC findings from the spatial location of Winnipeg. The province of Manitoba, with its large population of indigenous peoples, is indeed an advantageous location from which to observe a historical moment that directly addresses and involves ← 185 | 186 → indigenous peoples. In addition, the TRC’s headquarters are located in Winnipeg, and the research conducted by the commission and the statements gathered from the survivors will be stored at the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. I was conducting research in Winnipeg and took part in the ceremony held on June 2, 20154.

The theoretical lenses through which the release of the TRC findings will be examined in this paper are borrowed from cultural studies and postcolonial theory, which means that this analysis will focus on two key notions: contextualization and colonialism. The historical, spatial, and cultural coordinates – the networks of relations, practices, ideas, and changes which shaped the context in which the examined event took place – are fundamental tools for exploring the dynamics that regulate institutional relations between Canada as a nation-state and the indigenous peoples who live within its borders. Likewise, the history of colonialism and its legacy – which still shape domestic politics – must remain in the foreground in order to understand the complex entanglement of processes and structures of power addressed by the release of the TRC findings.

To begin with, one should be reminded that although indigenous education has a long history in Canada, Indian residential schools initiated by Canada immediately after confederation were intended to facilitate the assimilation of indigenous peoples into colonial settler society.

This paper uses two case studies to analyze the ways in which the release was covered in two Canadian newspapers: The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper, and the Winnipeg Free Press, a local newspaper. The TRC website will also be examined and other institutional websites will be marginally referenced in order to shed light on the range of responses from the media, and to provide examples of how the official position of the Canadian government was called into question. From a cultural perspective, the relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous civil society and the federal government will be the main focus of the analysis. These networks of relations are analyzed in order to observe how these communicative networks help shape public discourses, along with political and cultural interactions in Canadian society.

Supported by a political rhetoric of emergency and fear, contemporary scenarios of global risk, economic crisis, and impending catastrophe have made utopian projects for better societies difficult both to conceive and plan. In this alarming context, the neoliberal paradigm has ‘colonized’ public imagination and ← 186 | 187 → spread into all areas of civil society, supporting and justifying its own inevitability as the only viable path for addressing future challenges. In addition, theories of neo-managerialism in the public sector, and forms of new public management through information technologies have advanced the idea of a strategic pact between states and citizens along the lines of transparent communication. If these theories present reciprocal, profitable development both for the public sector and citizens, they indirectly offer a justification for the incessant renewal of the neoliberal system. From a critical standpoint, they undoubtedly carry the danger of reinforcing the hegemonic neoliberal economic agenda by suggesting a model of citizenship based on individualism, competition, and consumption. This non-inclusive prospective citizenship exposes ambiguous dynamics of inequality within the neoliberal paradigm. Connected to this, theories of new public management that confidently support the idealistic claim of successful communication as socially cohesive discoursive constructions, seem to overlook the important role that race and class play in society as practically joint categories of marginalization and exploitation.

In the case of indigenous peoples in Canada, these categories of subjection overtly surface in economic inequality, appearing in urban and land usage policies, different allocation of welfare services and education, and access to jobs. They still represent symbolic and practical boundaries within the economic neoliberal project applied to the public sector, which alarmingly risks severing the state from civil society. In this context, Larry Terry’s warning in “Administrative Leadership, Neo-Managerialism, and the Public Management Movement” that “public entrepreneurs of neo-managerialist persuasion pose a threat to democratic governance” (Terry 1998: 194) is worth taking seriously. Indeed, the cases presented in this paper argue that public discourse and national management in postcolonial societies should address the traumas and divisions provoked by colonial history according to a long-sighted vision that extends beyond the Western neoliberal ideology, constructing entrepreneurial relations between states as companies and citizens as stakeholders.

The situation of Canada as a settler colony is rooted in the occupation of land inhabited by indigenous people by European colonizers. This historical fact still shapes issues of land property and rights, native titles, cultural recognition, definitions of identity and citizenship, access to national resources and welfare programs in both the national agenda and native claims. As postcolonial theory makes clear, the hybridization resulting from different cultural encounters and increased movement and migration complicates the ways in which concepts of identity, subjectivity and cultural affiliation may be constructed in contemporary societies, ← 187 | 188 → thus challenging the neo-managerialist, top-down administered structure of relations based on discursive techniques strategically organized as collective bonds.

In general, the work of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions as they operate in various contexts of conflict around the world is built on the significance of historical and personal memory, of truth and reconciliation, healing and forgiveness, silence and speech, and community and participation in both private and public domains. The ideal aim of TRCs is to attempt to re-read history in a way that might help increase cohesion and acceptance in society, hopefully opening up possible trajectories to modify governmental structures and institutional practices of subjection and exclusion. A critical view may suggest how the most impressive examples of TRCs (e.g. South Africa) have actually failed to substantially create a more equal and just society. In contrast, these cases often provide evidence of the most pervasive effects of economic globalization and increasing social injustice.

The TRC of Canada is an interesting example because it makes explicit how institutional impediments, political inconsistencies, and opposition towards social inclusion and sharing may obstruct and hinder the successful implementation of the Commission’s work from the very moment these findings were released. Participative societies acting as national communities in postcolonial frameworks are difficult constructions whose utopian anticipation may be helped by processes of self-awareness, criticism, and shared responsibility encouraged through education, public debate, and political action, as both the Canadian TRC presentations and press coverage repeatedly emphasized.

One important educational step towards forging a communal sensibility among Canadian indigenous and non-indigenous peoples was taken by the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg with the permanent exhibit “We are all Treaty People” that opened on August 12, 20155. For the first time, all the Manitoba treaty medals were displayed along with the pipes and pipe bags used in the traditional ceremony. Maureen Matthews, the curator of ethnography at the Manitoba Museum and exhibit coordinator, explained that “[i]t is unusual for a museum to display sacred artifacts like these pipes and pipe bags, but without them we would have failed to represent First Nations agency and understandings”6. Matthews also emphasized the participation of indigenous peoples in the preparation of the exhibit: “We have collaborated with Treaty Relations Commission, consulted with the AMC Elders ← 188 | 189 → Council and feasted the artefacts in advance of this exhibit”7. This innovative perspective voiced a wider need to re-examine the problematic history of treaties between British and Canadian colonial authorities and First Nations, indirectly addressing the history of the occupation of Manitoba by colonial Canada8. This latter issue is beyond the scope of this paper, though it is worth mentioning in order to raise a specific awareness of treaties as part of the process of re-reading, re-telling, and re-writing history from different perspectives, of which the colonial is but one. The master narrative of empire has dominated the historical record and its preservation in institutional archives, while indigenous views have largely been excluded and/or underestimated. Elders, indigenous lawyers and experts in Canada have worked through traditional and institutional channels in order to convince indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to adopt the idea, first voiced by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, that “We are all Treaty people” and share treaties as part of a common identity, an outcome of a collective history now being re-formulated9.

From these premises, it seems relevant to formulate crucial questions regarding the ways in which the process of historical reconstruction in postcolonial Canada may be read vis-à-vis scenarios of effective institutional communication to citizens. How was information about the TRC findings spread? Which key issues were focused on? Will the TRC findings released in June 2015, and the final report of December 2015, affect the agenda of the Canadian government after the general elections of October 19, 2015? Do discourses of neo-managerialism and nation branding affect the processes of healing and reconciliation heralded by the TRC? And, connected to this, may policies of multiculturalism help or hinder reconciliation10? ← 189 | 190 →

It is important to define ways in which the connection between neo-managerialism, nation branding, and multiculturalism will be applied here. This paper will not consider how the cultural wealth of the nation is exploited for tourism and nation branding11, or how native cultures and their symbolic resources may be employed as modes of development of national economies12. The relationship between nation branding and neo-managerialism will be used to problematize ways in which scenarios of democratic participation may be thought of, and pursued in postcolonial contexts, thus affecting the dynamics and politics of the inclusion of cultural diversity in society. Since neo-managerialism and nation branding share a common concern of employing effective communication as a means for social cohesion, their association with multiculturalism may help to expose the inherent ambiguities that lie beneath and complicate their practical use as political projects of social participation. This will hopefully provide insight into the ways multicultural policies may be thoughtfully and fruitfully implemented. In a provocative reading of Canadian multicultural policy in Multiculturalism and the History of Canadian Diversity, Richard Day interrogates what he calls “the problem of the problem of diversity” throughout Canadian history, and challenges the notion of multiculturalism as a Canadian obsession13. He argues that no state intervention can bring an end to tensions related to ethno-cultural relations of power, and suggests that the idea of unity imposed by the nation-state must be abandoned in order to pursue effective politics of multiculturalism. According to this perspective, the very notions of diversity and unity are questioned and set up as fields of contention within culture and society, which also underscores the demand for reconstructing their meanings within the frame of the nation-state.

Richard Day’s argument can be put together with Melissa Aronczyk’s claim in Branding the Nation to highlight the links between managing and branding the ← 190 | 191 → nation. Aronczyk advances the idea that “nation branding has become a solution to perceived contemporary problems affecting the space of the nation-state: problems of economic development, democratic communication, and especially national visibility and legitimacy amid the multiple global flows of late modernity”. Because nations have lost their ideological and cohesive allure as imagined communities (to borrow Benedict Anderson’s famous definition) in the era of economic globalization and domineering finance, they have gradually transferred their appeal to quality branding in order to attract world capital into national economies and to further reassert the driving force of economic neoliberalism. By adopting this view, managing the nation according to economic neo-liberalism and, at the same time, pursuing ideals of democratic citizenship seems to be an unconvincing argument. This is because the management of public resources and discourses according to technocratic self-empowering economic principles works against democratic and representational forms of government that serve the common good, which stem from and are endorsed by heterogeneous civil society. As Aronczyk argues, “[n]ation branding represents a transformation of business in the articulation of national identity. [It] reveals how the social, political, and cultural discourse constitutive of the nation has been harnessed in new ways, with important consequences for both our concept of the nation and our ideals of national citizenship” (Aronczyk 2013: 3–4). This reading offers a useful background against which an analysis of the release of the TRC findings may be contextualized, and sheds light on how complex and multifaceted the case appears if one adopts an indigenous perspective. In fact, as the work of the TRC highlighted during the years of hearings, the place and presence of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canadian contemporary history, politics, and society have yet to be affirmed with respect to their traditional histories and beliefs.

It is therefore useful to analyze the TRC release and the summary of its final report to illustrate how the scars and shadows of colonialism survive and remain active and present in contemporary Canada. Canadian colonialism produced a radical disparity of power, created forced and dysfunctional relationships, and brought about cultural alienation typified by stereotypes, institutional racism, and inconsistencies of bureaucracy. In fact, while governmental agencies over the years have produced data on their own failures with regard to indigenous issues, remedies have been sought in civil society in an attempt to accommodate the rights and recognition owed to indigenous peoples14. Education is emphasized by ← 191 | 192 → the TRC as paramount in raising awareness about different historical narratives. Within this history, past and present colonial practices should be remembered, revealed, investigated, and evaluated in order to inaugurate a symbolic process of healing and reconciliation.

2.  The Colonial History of Indian Residential Schools in Canada15

Indian residential schools were boarding schools for First Nations, Inuit16, and Métis17 children funded by the Canadian government and mainly run by administrative and religious institutions. Pre-confederation cuts of the British Parliament in the mid-nineteenth century anticipated the system eventually created18. In 1844, the Bagot Commission recommended making use of indigenous education as a means of assimilation. According to the 1867 British North America Act, powers having to do with the education of Canadians were allocated to provincial governments, while the treaty for Indian people’s education fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government19. In 1879, Nicholas Flood Davin’s Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds, commissioned by Prime Minister John A. ← 192 | 193 → MacDonald, provided the rationale for the public funding of residential schools20. Subsequent legislation made residential schools the standard educational system for these indigenous children, and attendance was made compulsory both for day schools and residential schools, depending on availability in the territory. Historical records are inconsistent when it comes to locating and naming schools. It seems that the first ones were established in the 1830s, and by 1931, a total of 80 active schools were reported. The last residential school run by the government was closed in 1996. Approximately 132 residential schools operated between 1831 and 1996. For the purpose of providing compensation to former students, the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement identified 139 residential schools21.

Residential schools were part of a structured and strategically devised system aiming to assimilate indigenous peoples into the Euro-Canadian colonial society22. Ideologically colonial institutions, residential schools helped to justify European colonization and Christianization; their civilizing mission was perpetrated on people perceived to belong to a morally inferior race. It was part of the British colonial policy to try and eradicate indigenous cultures from conquered lands, and to physically eliminate traces of cultural indigeneity in the native people23.

A similar project was undertaken with the so-called half-blood indigenous peoples of Australia, which was, like Canada, a British settler colony. In Australia, “stolen generations” were part of a planned systematic program of action to irreversibly separate children from their families and eliminate the Aborigines from the newly settled land. Assimilation also aimed to introduce indigenous children into colonial society as a new labor force. To this end, they were trained in manual and subservient work. By the mid-nineteenth century in Canada, farming had become the economic engine of the prairie, replacing the centrality of the fur trade of the previous 200 years. On the plains, agriculture became a basic productive activity in the colonial settler economy, which disrupted indigenous systems of ← 193 | 194 → land use, making the need for new territory a central obsession of colonial occupation. Instructing pupils to work the land at residential schools reinforced this strategy of assimilation.

Historical records and the TRC findings document the complex variety of situations and conditions under which children were sent to residential schools. However, even if it is debatable which pressures and constraints individual families endured, what is unmistakably evident is the overall callous treatment and harsh conditions endured by most of the children. The system was meant to isolate children from their culture of origin: in many schools they were forbidden to speak their languages or practice their beliefs, were kept away from their families for long periods, and rebuked for transgressing the rules. This separation from their family and original community and culture was coupled with instances of cruel punishment, despicable violence, and physical and psychological abuse. Furthermore, schools were overcrowded and inadequately funded. Poor sanitation and lack of medical care caused disease and death in high numbers24. The TRC found that about 150,000 indigenous children attended residential schools, and more than 1,000 died at these institutions. The exact number is not known because no official death records were kept, and many children were buried in unmarked graves.

The legacy and long-lasting effects of residential schools on Canadian indigenous peoples generated an unresolved historical trauma that has been described as “cultural genocide”25. The conditions of indigenous peoples in today’s Canadian society bear testimony to this trauma as a collective wound, seen in the high rates of criminal convictions, alcoholism, drug addiction, lack of education and skills, psychological disorders, and low income26 among indigenous Canadians. In addition to these psycho-social factors, inter-generational suffering and the violent consequences of family dysfunction are passed on, thus reproducing historic trauma across the generations27. First and second-generation survivors of residential schools are now pulling together their efforts, calling upon the Canadian government and society to share this painful historical legacy. Memory and healing are key words in this process of sharing and reconciliation. Their symbolic power provides a guiding path in order to identify ways in which justice and reparations may begin to take effect.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was active in South Africa from 1995 until 1998, facilitating the peaceful transition from apartheid to a post-apartheid ← 194 | 195 → democracy. Through voluntary confessions, both victims and perpetrators of racial crimes would be publicly forgiven, provided they spoke the truth. Victims could have access to reparations and compensation, while amnesty was guaranteed to perpetrators. By comparison, the Canadian TRC did not mark a radical change in Canadian history and politics, and had no official or legal power to support the witnesses or to offer amnesty in exchange for truthful accounts from the staff of these residential schools or to those identified as having abused indigenous children. Instead, the Canadian TRC mainly acted to record the accounts of victims and listen carefully and sensitively to their testimonies. Little evidence was provided by the staff of the schools and by representatives of official institutions28. Financial compensation for victims was outside of the scope of the TRC, but survivors of residential schools were provided with compensation by a parallel process that was co-funded by the churches that ran the schools and the Government that funded them.

While symbolic reparations may yet be pursued through networks of solidarity and respect for human rights, financial compensation and long-term projects aimed at transforming the poor conditions of indigenous peoples in Canadian society and at reshaping the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians, progress will not happen unless positive action is included in the political agenda. Contrasting the TRC process with the South African model, the editorial published on June 1, 2015 in the Winnipeg Free Press noted the absence of the Canadian state: “Unbelievable that with all this time and attention spent on TRC, the federal government can’t be counted on to show true leadership”. Civil society is said to have taken the lead, “[e]ven the chairman of the TRC, Murray Sinclair, is not expecting much from Mr. Harper. Instead, he’s hoping that charities and non-profit groups, schools and educators, academics and neighborhood associations will engage to discuss the findings”29.

3.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools30

First Nation activists and leaders brought the issue of residential schools to the fore of national politics, and investigations were triggered by institutional agencies, which involved enquiries into the status of native peoples in Canada. A Royal ← 195 | 196 → Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), established in 1991, issued a report in 1996 examining historical relations and legal agreements since colonial times, and provided the Canadian government with detailed indications for implementing changes31. In 1998, the federal document “Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan” openly addressed Indian residential schools. It contained a statement of reconciliation and a plan for political action, which was implemented with a compensation package. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) was established to support community-based actions for former students. In 2000, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation founded the Legacy of Hope Foundation in order to raise awareness about residential schools and to support survivors.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), which was established in 2007 as a result of a major class action settlement in Canadian history, began to allocate financial compensation according to specific criteria for the damage inflicted to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in residential schools – a process which continues today32. These criteria relate to the time and place of attendance at residential schools, forced attendance, subjection to serious physical and sexual abuses, and the quality of testimony33. Proving eligibility may present a twofold problem because schools were not always properly registered and documentation of students in attendance was often incomplete. In addition, testimonies were provided orally. Oral evidence is often thought to be secondary to written documentation and reminds us of the multiplicity of ways of interpreting, narrating, and archiving history in cultures where orality is a trusted source of knowledge and a reliable basis for the transmission of history. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools in Canada worked to keep this indigenous principle in mind.

The duty of the commissioners of the TRC was to gather, document, and preserve the survivors’ memories. The Commission was launched on June 2, 2008. After initial obstacles, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established ← 196 | 197 → in October 2009 by Governor-General Michaëlle Jean. It was chaired by Justice Murray Sinclair, an Ojibwe-Canadian judge, with Commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild, former Conservative Member of Parliament and Alberta Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations, and Dr. Marie Wilson, a senior executive with the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was assisted by an Indian Residential School Survivor Committee (IRSSC) composed of 10 representatives from various Aboriginal organizations and survivor groups selected by the Federal Government in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). An Inuit sub-commission was also established, headquartered in Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories. It ensured that Inuit survivors of the residential schools were included in the national truth-telling and reconciliation process. From January 2011 to April 2012, the AFN carried out work on behalf of the TRC in Nunavut, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories under the co-direction of Jennifer Hunt-Poitras and Robert Watt34.

The TRC mandate was originally scheduled to complete its report in five years35. However, it was extended to 2015 due to the number of records provided by survivors. The Commission explored activities alleged to have occurred in residential schools and their negative impact. As the TRC website states, most of the statements were gathered at national and regional events, and at community hearings. Some were presented publicly in panels and circles36. Seven national events were held during 2008–2013. The investigation brought to light appalling events related to the students’ deaths at these institutions, including burials in unmarked graves without the parents’ notification or consent37. To supplement and confirm this information, the Commission gained access, through a court order, to historical ← 197 | 198 → records in the National Archives during 2012–2013. As Adele Perry writes in an article from the Winnipeg Free Press on July 10, 2015, “[t]his history is not over”: the effect of the TRC’s work has just begun. Its fundamental achievement being shared responsibility and common action for reconciliation and change. “‘Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem,’ said Sinclair. ‘It is a Canadian problem’”38.

By June 2, 2015 the TRC had compiled a summary titled ‘Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future’, which anticipates the six-volume Final Report, published in December 2015. The summary contains 94 recommendations, namely, “Calls to Actions”, grouped in the categories of legacy and reconciliation, which precisely identifies major fields for future interventions. “Calls to Action” aims at rebuilding and radically modifying the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. In an interview, Justice Murray Sinclair related reconciliation to education, and expanded the conventional meaning of education to include adult people at all levels of society. He stated that “[p]art of the misunderstanding that we see so prevalent in Canadian society is young adults, and adults in positions of leadership, constantly demonstrate a total lack of understanding and misunderstanding about who aboriginal people are”39. Here, he launched a clear attack against persistent colonial attitudes towards indigenous peoples in Canadian society, thus laying the foundations of the national debate on the recognition of the colonial ideological legacy.

4.  Media Coverage of the Release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings

A chronological reading of the media coverage of the release of the summary of the TRC findings began on May 29, 2015, when, in a speech given at the fourth annual Pluralism Lecture of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin set the tone of the political and cultural debate by explicitly maintaining that Canada’s residential schools policy was an ← 198 | 199 → attempt to commit “cultural genocide” against indigenous peoples40. The term “cultural genocide” was echoed in many newspaper articles, building on the existing debate about the extent to which residential schools had contributed to the disruption and destruction of indigenous cultures in Canada41. The emphasis on “genocide” and “cultural genocide” conjured an immediate connection to the Jewish holocaust, addressing complex legal matters42, and calling into question Canada’s official rejection of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples43.

Experts weighed the UN definition of “genocide” and its possible applications against the system of forced assimilation in Canada. Although the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948, did not use the phrase “cultural genocide”44, the debate showed that “[i]t is broader than just an aboriginal issue”45. Experts also tried to map out the political effects of McLachlin’s statement, even if, as many believe, it would not practically change current Canadian legislation. Nevertheless, one of the recommendations in the TRC “Calls for Action” is exactly that Canada reconsider its position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In an article entitled ‘McLachlin said what many have long known’, scholar and treaties expert Ken Coates emphasizes how much words matter, arguing that it is ← 199 | 200 → important to change both the national vocabulary and the ways in which official history has been constructed. He contests the old narrative of Canadian benevolence and argues in favor of a more realistic story based on the recognition of injustice and on the acceptance of shared responsibilities. However, in spite of the media coverage of the TRC findings in both the national newspaper The Globe and Mail and the Winnipeg Free Press, and notwithstanding what was perceived to be the popular support for accepting the term “cultural genocide”46, statistics showed that few Canadians actually paid attention to the issue of residential schools47. This poses serious questions as to what extent the official discourse of the nation – defined as addressing model citizens in national official and governmental communication – can be expected to engage with the indigenous question, and to speak to indigenous peoples as citizens.

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to indigenous peoples for the residential schools system and its program of assimilation, but his government denied that it was a form of genocide, calling it instead “forced assimilation”48. Since then, apologies seem inconsistent and there is still a widespread cynical attitude amongst indigenous people and their allies as to whether the federal government is going to take any action based on the TRC’s suggestions49. In contrast, immediate political action seemed to be understood by the TRC, activists, and journalists, as the only possible path in order to set up a line of continuity with past positive efforts and institutional progress. Actions were intended in diverse fields of application.

The TRC argued that improving indigenous education and supporting indigenous cultural preservation was their foremost recommendation, joined with a strong emphasis on the revision of colonial history, and a concrete actualization of ← 200 | 201 → legal justice for indigenous peoples. “There is no forgiveness without recognition”50, as Murray Sinclair stated, and recognition is achievable through education and the application of equal justice. In an article entitled ‘Education a way to reconciliation: justice’, Simona Chiose presented interviews with indigenous leaders and law experts highlighting the importance of popular actions, such as the Idle No More movement, mainly led by indigenous women in the cities51. Movements of people were perceived as a powerful means for raising a collective voice in favor of historical and cultural recognition. Risks were underscored, such as “the difficulty of making space for difference without romanticizing Aboriginal identity”, the huge contrast between “Western legal concepts […] rooted in concepts of property and individualism […] and indigenous legal traditions […] that ideal of living a good life and a collective life”52, and that “the issue has become too ‘compartmentalized’, too detached from other injustices embedded in Canadian history”53. Educational institutions were cited as proper places where these dangers might be confronted and controlled. Suggestions proposed that more indigenous material be included in post-secondary courses, that universities try to capture multiple cultural viewpoints and that revised versions of colonial history be told in schools nationwide. Finally, the history of residential schools should become part of the educational curriculum in every province54.

According to the TRC’s recommendations in ‘Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future’, change in educational practices rests on a radical revision of colonial history, which will also bring about important modifications in the national legal system. At present, it is considered essential that Canada officially reject both the Doctrine of Discovery and the notion that the lands claimed by European conquerors were terra nullius55. As ideological positions and legal principles, both notions helped to justify and consolidate colonial occupation. They still impinge on national culture, administrative practices, and political choices, thus preventing a successful process of reconciliation and the realization of a just society.

This pressing drive towards a different narrative of Canadian national history triggered debate among scholars, teachers, journalists, and representatives of ← 201 | 202 → various institutions. “Are we up to the challenge of rebooting history?”, wondered Dan Lett, analyzing how television programs still perpetuate stereotypes brought to Canada by European settlers. Lett also emphasized how insidious elements and incorrect ideological assumptions in the national narrative of history need to be deconstructed in order to reformulate it in more fair and balanced terms56.

Conflicting ways of interpreting history and enacting change were evident from the very day the TRC findings were released. In response to Jeffrey Simpson’s ‘Fixating on the past is not productive’ which alerted readers to the danger that “a relentless fixation on ‘the past’, especially the tragic and embittered parts, risks driving elements of a society apart, making reconciliation paradoxically more, not less, difficult”57, historian Adele Perry stresses ways in which “[h]istory is fundamentally about interpretation. [And] the TRC Summary does demand that we place indigenous peoples’ version of history of residential schooling, and indeed Canada, at the center rather than the margins of the history we tell”58. Opposing versions of history provoked indignant reactions. In an article titled ‘Debunking the half-truths and exaggerations in the Truth and Reconciliation report’ published on the National Post website on June 4, 2015, former University of Manitoba professors Rodney Clifton and Hymie Rubenstein59 expressed their dissatisfaction with the TRC report for having exaggerated the negative impact of residential schools and for providing incomplete evidence of positive examples of formal education in these institutions60. In reply, Norm Gould referred to these remarks as “retrograde opinions”. He argued against this form of historical denial and proposed that academic freedom and responsibility were indispensable tools to overcome this phenomenon61. In a similar vein, Dan Lett replied with a scathing article in response to Bill Marantz’s online statement on Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News, in which he referred to the TRC report as “the Half Truth and Recrimination Report”62. Milder criticism of the TRC’s work included suggestions ← 202 | 203 → that the Commission might have gone further in investigating events and, most of all, in specifying decisive solutions63.

While it was clear that the media and public debates were active, and hopefully useful for future development, contrasting factors emerged concerning the scope of the discussion, on the one side, and the silence of federal institutions, on the other. The complex network of ideas onto which practices of assimilation, cultural and physical genocide are entangled in history show how any process of reconciliation must be rooted in historical recognition. As Adam Muller argues in ‘Indian residential schools were unqualified genocide’, many “have drawn attention away from myriad, long-standing, and enduring ways in which unqualified genocide has been perpetrated in Canada. […] To admit less than this […] is to blur the distinction between the methods and the aims of genocidal conduct”64.

In Canada, while investigations and reflections dug deep into histories of cultural destruction, multiple institutional strategies of subjection surfaced, and dangers of marginalization emerged. The discussion showed the connection between the residential schools system and the “Sixties Scoop”, a child welfare program that took indigenous children away from their parents and adopted them into non-indigenous families, mainly in the United States. The survivors are now asking for similar justice and reparation65. The Métis people, too, who have a complex and specific group history in Canada, claim that they were ignored in the process of historical reconciliation led by the TRC66. In addition, the contemporary emergence of the issue of more than one thousand missing and murdered indigenous women illustrates that the problem of indigenous children’s welfare is still not over, which further complicates the indigenous question in Canadian society. These contemporary issues are also in desperate need of prompt institutional action67.

In spite of positions of active engagements proposed by local institutions voiced in the press and public channels, the federal government – which bears the legal responsibility for the victims of residential schools – has remained silent. Speaking on behalf of Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders, Paul Davis, ← 203 | 204 → Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, declared that “Canada’s premiers support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations and will act on them with or without Ottawa’s help”. He also emphasized that “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s longstanding absence from first ministers’ meetings is a missed chance for collaboration”68. In addition, responding to the TRC’s call for action, an agreement to develop a strategy to preserve and promote indigenous languages was signed by the provincial government of Manitoba together with indigenous and local educational and cultural agencies. However, as Nick Martin ironically remarked, “there was one potentially useful partner missing Monday — the federal government”69. The federal government will provide some financial support, Martin added, but it has remained an external, peripheral, and uninvolved actor70.

At the formal ceremony of the release of the Summary of the TRC findings in Ottawa on June 2, 2015, the federal government’s silence and passivity were brought to the forefront by media analysts. Bill Curry noted that “Stephen Harper took part in an emotional closing ceremony for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but the Prime Minister did not say a word”71. And Shannon Sampert, one of the few white pupils in the residential schools system, stated: “I would have liked to see my prime minister and his ministers sitting in the audience in Ottawa on Tuesday, surrounded by survivors. […] In an era of optic politics, it would have sent a clear message this is being taken seriously, or that their voices have been heard”72. Sampert also emphasized that the State was highly underrepresented at the official release. And Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, defined the government’s prolonged silence as “confusing”73.

The Canadian Prime Minister did deliver a written speech after the release of the Summary of the TRC findings, stating that: “While this is an important milestone in getting our country past the days of Indian residential schools, work is still ← 204 | 205 → needed to help heal the pain and restore trust from that wrong”74. The government spoke in favor of informed and well-reasoned decisions, as the official website briefly stated75. The general feeling was that the government was taking its time, waiting for the federal elections of October 19, 2015 and the release of the final TRC report to take place. However, the article ‘Truth and consequence’ published in The Economist on July 6, 2015, considered how hopes might be frustrated, given that the expectations raised by the Prime Minister’s apology in 2008 were left without effects, in the same way the findings of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples had been largely ignored in 1996. From a different standpoint, it may be argued that the government’s minimal participation was in fact an open statement for its potential voters, and therefore a clear assertion for those Canadian citizens who would not favor changing institutional relations with indigenous peoples. In any case, a contrast was evident between the TRC’s 94 recommendations calling for immediate action and the government’s restrained participation in the TRC recommendations release.

As a member of the audience on June 2, 2015 in Winnipeg during the announcement of the recommendations, the relevance of various symbolic actions was palpable. We watched the day begin in Ottawa and Winnipeg, with the sacred fire, left to burn until the end of the final ceremonial event. The emotional side of the celebration was as important as the rational one. Grief was passed on from person to person. The members of the TRC themselves had clearly experienced shock and distress while listening to the reports and collecting the terrible stories. This point was acknowledged in their individual statements76. The underlying message travelled around the room and across the country, linking past and present histories at all levels of the community, touching first and second-generation survivors, and expanding to include a community of participants. The histories implicitly referred to were personal, familiar, collective, and national stories of subjection and despair, remembrance and hope, recognition and action, celebration and joy. Photos published in newspapers showed survivors holding their children and ← 205 | 206 → grandchildren77. Ceremonies are essential in indigenous cultures, and the TRC release was meant to be a collective national ceremony, too. Public spaces were occupied in order to infuse them with collective meaning. In Ottawa, “a symbolic show of reconciliation” took place on 1 June with a walk across the city78.

On June 2, 2015 in Winnipeg, the official release was broadcast at the University of Winnipeg, where a crowd of about 700 people had gathered to witness the event. In attendance were first and second-generation survivors of residential schools, as well as descendants, politicians, institutional representatives, academics, and supporters like myself. Of the several local speakers, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs delivered an outspoken and provocative speech, claiming that “[t]he atrocities of yesterday are happening right now”, which was clearly challenging political institutions to take action and “make changes within this lifetime”, in order to accomplish the TRC’s work and the struggle of indigenous peoples in Canada79. Winnipeg celebrations continued with a march along the public urban spaces of Portage Avenue and Main Street, as far as the Thunderbird House, where a ceremonial pipe smoking ceremony and singing took place. Members of the public in attendance were concerned and emotional. People were respectful and appreciative towards the survivors, who had endured terrible struggle, and now took part in the celebration showing both their pride and sorrow. External observers, like myself, could perceive the distress, the inexplicability of the history being resuscitated, and the need for new stories to be articulated. However, the general climate was one of festivity combined with constructive anticipation for effective action to be devised on the political, social and cultural arenas.

The TRC’s proposal for future action entails teaching and education. On the TRC website, teaching is presented as a permanent project, a lifestyle, a necessary tool for survival, exchange, individual and collective growth80. To this end, the protection and preservation of indigenous languages has been a major concern. The ← 206 | 207 → oral recording and written transcription of native languages is being undertaken by experts in the field. In order to raise awareness, elders speak in public about their versions of history and cultural practices important to them and characteristic of a good life. This is part of the rewriting of history that the TRC has envisaged. Literacy for indigenous children is demanded, too, so that young people may have access to information and resources that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

The website “Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada” contains statements, documents, and research materials gathered by the Commission, which will be stored in the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation81. The website is rich and detailed, up-to-date, and user-friendly. Sharing information and attracting engagement from the community are visible objectives. The heading “Findings” leads one to the executive summary, “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future”, the principles “What We Have Learned. Principles of truth and reconciliation”, the document “The survivors speak”, and “Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action”. Examples show how simple gestures may become meaningful. “It matters to me” brings to the fore expressions of reconciliation, and the “Personal ribbon campaign” proposes the exchange of symbolic gifts. Invitations for “Sharing the truth” and “What can I do?” give detailed instructions for statement gathering. And activities are suggested for groups of people and for children in order to mark a symbolic beginning for teaching a new history82. Emotionally and rationally, the website is engaging and thought provoking.

5.  Coda: The Land We Are

In the inspiring climate around the release of the TRC findings summary, the timely book The Land We Are, published just after the release of the TRC summary, is worth mentioning because it warns against the myth of historical transformation. It points to the dangers of patronizing, top-down manipulation and romantic illusions of fulfilment, however appealing they might seem.

Postcolonial theory favors resistance, marginal points of view, and dissenting attitudes. They are essential theoretical and methodological tools that allow multiple voices and perspectives to engage actively with one another in context. ← 207 | 208 → From this standpoint, the book offers a challenging reading of the notion of reconciliation in contemporary Canada, while putting forward ambitious solutions. Visual artists and performers in The Land We Are refute the idea of reconciliation when it is aimed at moving beyond and setting aside a problematic chapter of history. Instead, they advocate reparations and restitution as integral steps towards reconciliation83. Otherwise, they argue, reconciliation could simply instantiate acceptance of the status quo. Their criticism stems from various artistic fields. With visual installations, performances, and creation of artworks, artists criticize the public use of indigenous artistic traditions for gentrified urban developments, reclaiming public areas as meeting spaces for indigenous peoples. Their works also deconstruct institutional discourses, and propose collaborative practices that use the transformative and transgressive power of art and performance. The book articulates an open statement mainly addressed to non-indigenous Canadians who have the real and unavoidable responsibility to abandon the normalizing colonial narrative of history from which they benefited, and to change, both practically and radically, their relationships with indigenous peoples by giving up privilege and power. For artists in The Land We Are, reconciliation in Canada is just a beginning. It can only progress if non-indigenous people learn to live with and collaborate with indigenous residents of their country.

In conclusion, the debate around the release of the summary of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools in Canada has not been examined as a direct example of neo-managerialism. However, it raises important questions concerning the type of citizens to whom public communication is addressed, as well as those citizens’ place in society and in the national community. If an inclusive society appears to be based on transparent communication by the public central administration – which should set the basis for a new deal between the state and the citizens – then the example offered here is a key case for understanding how problematic and blurred the category of citizenship (and the related active participation of citizens in the civil society) may be in countries with a colonial history as a settler colony in inhabited lands. One should also be alert to the dangers that Larry Terry points out when he focuses on challenges to democracy if the state takes on the characteristics of a firm or of a futuristic e-democracy in countries where education, literacy, and basic social welfare for indigenous people are issues to be urgently addressed. It seems that a contradiction is inevitable when public administrations model themselves on corporations while also claiming to articulate long-term idealistic objectives of ← 208 | 209 → inclusive democracy. It must be further explored and verified whether addressing citizens as stakeholders through effective communication will allow the different voices of civil society to be represented. In addition, a vigilant attitude should be maintained so as to never to lose sight of the ways in which race and class act as formidable driving forces of marginalization, particularly when hegemonic neoliberal economic regimes control political, social, and cultural interactions. Surreptitious and ambiguous dynamics of social ostracism and cultural isolation must be assiduously pursued and exposed by speaking the truth against homogenizing neo-imperialist discourses and practices. This is beneficial advice given by postcolonial theorist Edward Said that helps bring dissenting and minority views into the public discourse. To this end, the Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada offers precise indications and suggestions about the nature of social obligations, citizenship, and minority rights that extend beyond the contextual frame of the Commission’s field of investigation into the organized abuses of indigenous peoples. Reading the extended final report, delivered on December 15, 201584, brings to the fore relevant lines of analysis and reflection, as Jocelyn Thrope suggests in the epigraph to this paper that Canadians “By listening and learning […] can work together to make the changes our society desperately needs”. It is a considerate recommendation that may also effectively inspire more general, perceptive and receptive attitudes of cultural awareness beyond the contingency of the case examined in this essay. Expectations and hopes about the real possibility for a cultural, social, and political change in Canada have risen since Justin Pierre James Trudeau won the federal elections held on October 19, 2015, becoming the Prime Minister of a majority liberal government that has been leading the country since November 4, 2015. His government set the indigenous question at the core of its political agenda.

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Sites

Idle No More, <http://www.idlenomore.ca>

Indigenous and Native Affairs Canada, <https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng>

Manitoba Museum, <www.manitobamuseum.ca>

Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, <http://www.trcm.ca/>


1 The author wishes to thank Maureen Matthews, curator of ethnology of the Manitoba Museum, for her useful comments and suggestions on this essay, and for her wonderful hospitality during the period of research in Winnipeg.

2 Thorpe, Jocelyn, “We can start to reconcile now”, Winnipeg Free Press, June 16, 2015, p. 9.

3 The word “Indian” is employed here because it was the official name for residential schools in Canadian history. In other contexts, the terms “indigenous” and “aboriginal” will be used instead.

4 British Columbia is the original homeland of many indigenous Canadians who are actively involved in the process of reconciliation. See <http://reconciliationcanada.ca/>.

5 <https://manitobamuseum.ca/main/museum-opens-two-new-permanent-exhibits/> (accessed September 28, 2015).

6 “Manitoba Museum makes aboriginal history permanent exhibit”, Winnipeg Sun, 21 August 2015, <http://www.winnipegsun.com/2015/08/12/manitoba-museum-makes-aboriginal-history-permanent-exhibit> (accessed September 28, 2015).

7 <http://www.communitynewscommons.org/our-city/education/we-are-all-treaty-people-exhibit-opens/> (accessed September 28, 2015).

8 See Pratt / Bone and the Treaty & Dakota Elders of Manitoba (2014) and D’Arcy / Bone and the Treaty & Dakota Elders of Manitoba (2014).

9 See: Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba website, <http://www.trcm.ca/>; Office of the Treaty Commissioner website, http://www.otc.ca/; (), Government of Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, A history of Treaty-Making in Canada, http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1314977704533/1314977734895;) and Government of Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Treaty Research Report, <http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100028653/1100100028654>.

10 In the past four decades in Canada, multiculturalism has been central to the national agenda, particularly when applied to the issue of migration. Provisions related to multiculturalism were included in the Constitution Act of 1982. Canada's Multiculturalism Act was adopted in 1988. The ideological and political experiment of multiculturalism marked an attempt to frame diversity as unity, which was consistent with the constructed mosaic image of the nation. There is a vast literature on Canadian multiculturalism that features both harsh criticism and defensive assessment of this national policy, also comparing the Canadian form of multiculturalism to similar political projects in different countries. See: Banting and Kymlicka (2010); Kymlicka (2012); Garcea, Kirova and Wong (2008); Banting, Courchene and Seidle (2007).

11 See Bandelj and Wherry (2011).

12 In colonial imagery, indigenous cultural expressions and artefacts are often perceived as exotic stereotypes that match the romantic representation of the primitive good native or of the savage Indian in Hollywood Western films.

13 See Day (2000: 3).

14 A reassuring and inspiring analysis of the ways in which “[t]he promise of democracy rests on the practice of active citizenship” is offered by David Campbell in the fascinating 2015 essay Metis, craft, civic mindedness: Essential attributes of democratic citizenship in communities.

15 See Government of Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Indian Residential Schools, <https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015576/1100100015577> and Indian Residential Schools Resources website, http://irsr.ca/.

16 The involvement of Inuit children in residential schools differs from that of First Nations children. The Inuit population was affected by the Indian Act of 1924 and constitutionally classified as “Indian” in 1939. Schools for Inuit children began to operate in the North in the mid 1950s. <http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100016900#chp2> (accessed September 30, 2015).

17 It was with the Northwest Half-breed Claims Royal Commission of 1885 that the federal government addressed the issue of Métis education. http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100028809 (accessed September 30, 2015). Ways in which residential schools affected Métis children and culture, and the Métis community’s involvement in the telling of the history of residential schools, are often perceived as being overlooked and underestimated.

18 See Government of Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Historical Legislation, <https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100010193/1100100010194>.

19 Part of the legislation about assimilation was the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857, the Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians of 1869, and the Indian Act of 1876.

20 The document is conventionally called “The Davin Report”.

21 www.trc.ca.

22 In 1920, Duncan Campbell Scott, Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1913 until 1932 made the government’s position towards native peoples explicit by stating: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem […]. Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politics, and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department” (Report of the Special Committee of the House of Commons examining the Indian Act amendments of 1920).

23 See Still taking ‘Indian’ out of the child? (Winnipeg Free Press, 2015: 8). This colonial strategy of assimilation, recalls, in its most abjected form, the explicit sentence “Exterminate all the brutes” addressed to Africans in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

24 See Bryce (1922).

25 See Pankratz (2015: 9).

26 See From residential schools to jails (Winnipeg Free Press, 2015: 8).

27 See Reconciliation, <www.trc.ca> (accessed September 30, 2015).

28 See Galloway (2015: 1, 6–7).

29 See Still taking ‘Indian’ out of the child? (Winnipeg Free Press 2015: 8).

30 Full text is available at <http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/researchpublications/prb0848-e.pdf> (accessed October 5, 2015).

31 Full text available at <http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/prb9924-e.htm>; see also <http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1307458586498/1307458751962>; and <https://archive.org/details/RoyalCommissionOnAboriginalPeoples-FinalReport-Vol.1-Looking>, (accessed October 5, 2015).

32 The IRSSA financed the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was mainly concerned with claims of serious physical and sexual abuse. Hearings are expected to continue until around 2017. See <https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2008-2009/inst/ira/ira02-eng.asp>.

33 Competent bodies include the Common Experience Payment (CEP), Independent Assessment Process (IAP), and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

34 See <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=158> (accessed October 15, 2015).

35 Full text is available at <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/pdfs/SCHEDULE_N_EN.pdf> (accessed October 15, 2015).

36 “Share your truth”, www.trc.ca (accessed September 30, 2015).

37 As The Guardian reports in an interview to residential school survivor Sue Caribou, “As many as 6,000 children died in residential institutions, which ran from 1876 to 1996. The accurate figure could be much higher however, since the government stopped recording aboriginal students’ deaths in 1920 in light of the alarming statistics. Caribou believes that dozens of pupils perished at the institution where she was detained. ‘Remains were found all over the fields. But numbers do not reflect the reality. Many of my friends committed suicide after their release’, said Caribou, who said she was frustrated that an inquiry did not take place twenty years ago, after the last of the residential schools closed.” “Canada confronts its dark history of abuse in residential schools,” <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/06/canada-dark-of-history-residential-schools> (accessed 30 September 2015).

38 Robson, Mia, “Canadians United for change”, Winnipeg Free Press, June 1, 2015, p. 3.

39 Chiose, Simona, “Universities must address residential schools legacy, Justice Sinclair said”, The Globe and Mail, May 29, 2015, <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/universities-must-address-residential-school-legacy-justice-sinclair-says/article24709958/> (accessed October 5, 2015).

40 Fine, Sean, “McLachlin: A history of ‘cultural genocide’. Supreme Court Chief Justice delivers ‘unparalleled’ remarks over Canada’s treatment of First Nations people”, The Globe and Mail, June 29, 2015, pp. 1, 12.

41 Chief Justice McLachlin authored the important decision about indigenous rights of June 2014 to grant title to the Tsilhqot’in nation. It determined the terms of ownership of ancestral land for indigenous people. See Kopecky (2015: 30–39).

42 See Fine (2015: 6).

43 Full text available at <http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf> (accessed October 15, 2015). See also Towtongie and Coon Come (2015). The article severely criticizes the federal government’s opposition to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration: “Ultimately, what lies behind the rhetoric about the declaration is the federal government’s resistance to sharing, constructively and creatively, the extraordinary power and control it exercises over so many indigenous peoples in Canada, notwithstanding it was the misuse of this power that impoverished and dispossessed indigenous peoples. That is the real heart of the matter.”

44 Full text available at <https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%2078/volume-78-I-1021-English.pdf> (accessed October 5, 2015).

45 These are the Northwest Territories Minister of Education and former residential school survivor Jackson Lafferty’s words, as they are reported in Galloway and Curry (2015: 10).

46 Rabson (2015: 12).

47 Rabson (2015), <http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/New-poll-shows-many-Canadians-not-paying-attention-to-issue-of-residential-schools-312964481.html> (accessed October 1, 2015).

48 “‘Canada confronts its dark history of abuse in residential schools’: Landmark report reveals school system’s brutal attempt to assimilate thousands of native children for more than a century and gives voice to survivors”, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/06/canada-dark-of-history-residential-schools> (accessed September 30, 2015). In 2009, Pope Benedict XIV released an official statement about the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

49 See Lett (2015: 5): “Harper repeatedly referred to his 2008 apology and to ongoing government programs to help improve conditions for aboriginal Canadians. The political translation: We have done everything that we’re prepared to do.”

50 See Chiose (2015: 5).

51 <http://www.idlenomore.ca/>

52 See Chiose (2015: 5).

53 See Swan (2015: 3).

54 Galloway and Curry (2015: 1).

55 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, www.trc.ca (accessed October 1, 2015).

56 See Lett (2015: 4).

57 See Simpson (2015: 11).

58 See Perry (2015: 9).

59 See Geary (2015: 13).

60 See Clifton and Rubenstein (2015) <http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/clifton-rubenstein-debunking-the-half-truths-and-exaggerations-in-the-truth-and-reconciliation-report> (accessed October 10, 2015).

61 See Gould (2015: 9).

62 See Lett (2015) <http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/Apology-welcome-but-doesnt-excuse-condemned-editorial--311029771.html> (accessed October 30, 2015).

63 See Perry (2015: 9): “In some ways, the TRC summary report doesn’t ask for enough”; ‘Join them on a path to healing’ (Editorial, Winnipeg Free Press, 2015: 6).

64 See Muller (2015: 9).

65 See Puxley (2015: 9).

66 Conversation between Claudia Gualtieri and Lawrence Barkwell at the Manitoba Métis Federation in Winnipeg, June 15, 2015, not published; Puxley, Chinta, “Métis fear they are being sidelined”, Winnipeg Free Press, June 16, 2015, p. 4.

67 See <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/06/canada-dark-of-history-residential-schools> (accessed October 25, 2015).

68 See Bailey (2015) <http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/native-leaders-to-discuss--violence-children-in-care-at-meeting-with-premiers-315246151.html> (accessed October 1, 2015).

69 See Martin (2015) <http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Mutlitude-of-groups-signs-on-to-preserve-foster-indigenous-languages-328513801.html> (accessed October 1, 2015)

70 See Curry (2015: 1, 9).

71 See Curry (2015: 1, 9).

72 See Sampert (2015: 9).

73 See Kusch (2015) (accessed October 1, 2015).

74 See Curry and Galloway (2015: 6): “‘We are still awaiting the full report. The government will examine all of these and, obviously, read them before deciding what the appropriate next steps are’, Mr Harper told the House of Commons”.

75 “On June 2, 2015, the Government of Canada and the other parties to the Settlement Agreement received the TRC’s executive summary, including its key findings and recommendations. The government will study these findings and recommendations carefully. We look forward to receiving the entire six volume final report to be able to fully understand the TRC’s conclusions and respond in an informed manner.”

76 Moran (2015: 11).

77 See Curry and Galloway (2015: 6): “Former Northwest Territories premier Stephen Kakfwi, a residential school survivor, holds his granddaughter Sadeya Kakfwi-Scott while standing with the audience at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Tuesday in Ottawa”; see Rabson (2015: 3): “Charlotte Boubard holds her daughter, Toni, while singing at the Winnipeg’s Thunderbird House after the Walk for Reconciliation on Tuesday”; see Welch (2015: 4): “Caroline Ouskun and her nephew Travis Spence […] at the U of W”.

78 See Rabson (2015: 3).

79 See Welch (2015: 4).

80 www.trc.ca.

81 <http://umanitoba.ca/nctr/>.

82 Information about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be found on the websites of the federal government of Canada at <http://www.pm.gc.ca/>; <https://www.gg.ca/>; <https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/>; and on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/a-history-of-residential-schools-in-canada-1.702280>.

83 See Hill and McCall (2015). See also, Dudley (2015: 1).

84 <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3>, <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=890>, <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=903> (last accessed March 5, 2016) and <http://nctr.ca/map.php> (last accessed March 8, 2016).