My Thoughts on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: By Robert Bonner
In my lifetime, I have heard or read about historic events that have occurred in this world. The death of a British Prime Minister, assassination of two brothers, man on the moon, death of a man with a dream; an inept apology from a man who continues with his government’s policies to suppress and deprive this country’s First Nations’ people (Indians) of their share in the abundance of natural resources that he offers so freely to the world.
Recently, I had the honour of attending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event in Vancouver. It was an emotional experience for me. To see elders cry, relate their stories, meet old friends. Not everyone I talked to was happy with the event. Some survivors felt that it was a total waste of money; for some it was a chance to share experiences that they have carried by themselves for far too long.
I heard a man say in the opening of the event that we are about to make history. I have just read that Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the TRC, is asking that all who work with us (teachers, health care professionals) be given a mandatory course in residential schools. REALLY! Is that the message that this commission heard? Do they not hear the cries for help?
The commission is in its last year:”A Year of Truth.” Tell me this, then: why do survivors seeking compensation receive documents with sections still blacked out? People are told it is to protect the innocent. Where was this protection for the innocent as children were being beaten, forced to work, and physically, sexually and mentally abused? This innocence was torn from these children in a most horrific manner.
If I were to say anything, we need to build healing centres for the survivors; a place of their own; a place where they can learn the teachings; things that make us strong as a people. We need to get away from their way; it’s what got us here to begin with. Monies should be spent on training our people to heal our people. For any healing to take place we need to draw together, to demand and implement real changes in how this government deals with us. We need to heal as a people, and with this renewed strength stand up and demand what is rightfully ours.