OTTAWA – On the second year anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today said the work of reconciliation must accelerate.
“The past two years has seen a great response from all levels of government and from Canadians who have embraced reconciliation, but change is not happening fast enough,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We are still too far from completing these very important Calls to Action. The socio-economic gap between First Nations and Canadians remains vast. We must work more quickly, because too many First Nations remain without clean drinking water and adequate housing, and too many of our children are taken and poorly served by discriminatory child welfare systems.”
The National Chief added, “The framework needed has been clearly identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and promised by the Government of Canada. That is the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is our framework for change. Canada’s commitment to work with us to co-develop an Indigenous Languages Act to revitalize and preserve the original languages of this land is an important measure of progress. We need to do the same on implementation of the UN Declaration. It’s work that should not wait.”
On June 2, 2015 the TRC released 94 “calls to action” on priorities for action, including child welfare, justice, education health and the call for an MMIW Inquiry. The full final report was released December 15, 2015 and completed the work of the TRC which was mandated in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement of 2007. The findings followed six years of hearing testimony from more than 7,000 former residential school students from across the country.
The AFN is a party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that led to the creation of the TRC. The federal government has committed to working with First Nations and Indigenous peoples to implement the Calls to Action. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that true reconciliation goes beyond the scope of the Calls to Action and has pledged to work with First Nations, Indigenous leaders, provinces and territories and all key parties to design a national engagement strategy for developing and implementing a national reconciliation framework, informed by the TRC’s recommendations.