Initiative builds political will to teach young Canadians about the impacts of residential schools and contributions of Indigenous peoples.
(Toronto, ON) – Today, KAIROS Canada and the Legacy of Hope Foundation launch an action mobilizing their national networks to advocate for the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC)’s Call to Action #62. This call urges provincial governments and educators to ensure that all students learn about Indian Residential Schools (IRS), treaties, and the contributions made by First Nations, Inuit and Métis to Canada. This action is part of KAIROS’ Winds of Change campaign.
The TRC released its 94 Calls to Action in June 2015 after a five year cross-Canada process that gave IRS survivors the opportunity to share their experiences.
Starting today, members of the KAIROS network will gather signatures on petitions calling on provincial governments to adopt Call to Action #62. They will deliver these petitions to the ministers of education and provincial representatives in the spring.
While KAIROS and Legacy of Hope Foundation agree that action is required on all 94 Calls to Action, the Winds of Change campaign begins with #62 because they concur with the TRC that education is key to reconciliation.
“We can end the ignorance about our history in one generation if provincial governments ensure that all Canadian students learn about the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada,” says Jennifer Henry, KAIROS’ Executive Director. “This includes the impacts of colonization, including the residential schools which continue to affect Indigenous peoples today, and a true account of the unique contributions Indigenous peoples have made to our past and our present.”
“The Residential School system in Canada created a shared legacy for Indigenous people and all Canadians, a reality that impacts all of us still today,” says Richard Kistabish, President of Legacy of Hope Foundation. “The Legacy of Hope Foundation believes that educating our next generations about Residential Schools and their intergenerational impacts is the first step in changing the legacy to one of hope. This curriculum is part of the change, where Indigenous wisdom is the foundation and where reconciliation is at the forefront of Canada’s consciousness.”
Education means not only learning a history that many are never taught, but, for non-Indigenous people, unlearning attitudes and behaviours that contribute to intolerance and racism.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples continue to suffer from the legacy of numerous abuses that seven generations of Indigenous children experienced during this national project of assimilation. During that time, Canadians and Indigenous peoples were taught that Indigenous cultures were inferior to those of Europeans.
“If we teach our children the truth, they can be leaders in the critically important work of bringing about reconciliation in our country,” says Henry. “We applaud the provincial and territorial governments that have pledged their commitment to mandatory curriculum and urge all educational ministries to work with Indigenous educators to fully implement the TRC’s Call to Action #62 as soon as possible.”
Canadians are invited to visit kairoscanada.org/windsofchange to learn more and get involved.
About KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
KAIROS is a faith-based social justice organization of eleven Canadian churches and religious organizations. It focuses on Indigenous rights, international human rights and ecological justice. We deliberate on issues of common concern, advocate for social change and join with people of faith and goodwill in action for social transformation. To learn more, visit kairoscanada.org.
About Legacy of Hope Foundation
Legacy of Hope Foundation is a national Aboriginal charitable organization whose purposes are to educate, raise awareness and understanding of the legacy of residential schools, including the effects and intergenerational impacts on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and to support the ongoing healing process of Residential School Survivors. Fulfilling this mandate contributes towards reconciliation among generations of Aboriginal peoples, and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. To learn more, visit legacyofhope.ca.