Adrian Wyld archives La Presse canadienne Le premier ministre canadien, Justin Trudeau, lors d’une prise de parole à l’occasion de la publication du rapport de la Commission de vérité et réconciliation du Canada, le 15 décembre 2015, à Ottawa.
Canada has been so slow to implement recommendations made eight years ago by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that an Indigenous-led think tank has decided to stop publishing an annual report on progress.
“At first, the project aroused hope and determination: it was believed that if the Canadian public knew about their government's inaction, then perhaps things would change,” reads- on in the annual report of the Yellowhead Institute, a research and education center at Metropolitan Toronto University.
“But as those who followed us on this journey may have noticed, this hope began to diminish during the fifth year of the project. »
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has spent years investigating and documenting the history and long-term harm of church-run and federally funded residential schools. More than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend these institutions, often far from their families and communities.
Thousands of young people have suffered psychological, physical and sexual assault. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, based in Winnipeg, estimates that more than 4,000 Indigenous children died in these residential schools.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued 94 “calls to action” in its 2015 report, with recommendations for all levels of government and other institutions, including academia and the media.
The Yellowhead Institute's 2023 report, released Wednesday, reveals no new calls to action have been implemented this year. The research institute says that if Canada continues at this pace, it won't be done until the year 2081 — 16 years later than last year's estimate.
The report states that “there are limits to the number of times one can write a report on how Canada, once again, has failed to do significant progress.”
The Yellowhead Institute considers that only 13 of the recommendations have been fully implemented since 2015.
Ottawa, “uncompromising” partner
The institute says it is no longer sure how to compel the federal government to respond to calls for action, saying Ottawa has been a reluctant partner until now.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal were not immediately available Wednesday to comment on the report .
But last September, Ms. Hajdu's office highlighted progress in calls for action this year, such as the June announcement of the choice of a site for the future “Monument Residential Schools Project”, which will be erected on Parliament Hill.
Not all calls for action are solely the responsibility of the federal government, such as Pope Francis' apology presented in July 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had personally asked the Pope to apologize on Canadian soil, and the government federal government spent at least $55 million on Francis' visit to Canada.
But the Yellowhead Institute considers that even this call to action is not perfectly fulfilled: in its report last year, the center pointed out that the pope's apology had gaps, notably making no mention of sexual assault.
The report indicates that there are five main challenges to reconciliation: paternalism, structural discrimination against Indigenous people, reconciliation as “exploitation” or “performance”, insufficient resources and economic interests, as well as the apathy of non-natives.
While asserting that none of the calls for action have been carried out in 2023, the report highlights important legal victories for First Nations. Examples include the historic $43 billion child welfare settlement, and a $10 billion settlement with 21 Ontario Indigenous communities to honor a treaty promise dating back to 1850.
“When there is concrete action, it does not come from Canada […] but from the Aboriginal people themselves, who fiercely defend themselves and resist the full weight of Canadian intransigence”, supports the Yellowhead Institute.