On June 2, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released a summary of its examination of the impact of Indian Residential Schools. From establishment of the residential schools program in the late 1800s to its end in 1996, over 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were separated from their families and placed in government funded schools. While acknowledging that some students had positive experiences, the report asserts that the program was part of a “cultural genocide” designed to “eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will.”

Collecting thousands of testimonials and statements over 6 years, this report documents experiences of former students, families, communities, and others involved with the residential school system. The document was designed to serve as a “permanent record of the Indian residential school legacy,” or what commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair, called “a reference document… for generations to come.”

In addition the report makes 94 recommendations that aim to correct past injustices and build a framework for “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.” The recommendations include:

– Full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

– Reform and reinforcement of child welfare, education, justice, and health care systems

– Recognition of Aboriginal language rights and promotion of Aboriginal languages

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report can be found at www.trc.ca.

PHOTO – Commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair speaks at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 in Ottawa. (Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)