2021 marks the first year Canadians will observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It’s an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools as well as other systems aimed to erase Indigenous culture. The recent discoveries of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across the nation has left many Canadians turning to the past for answers. It is important to understand our country’s history so we can move forward, and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a dedicated day for self-reflection and learning so we can take action together.
Recipe teammates recently had the opportunity to learn about Indigenous Reconciliation from Kim Baird during a company-wide webinar. Ms. Baird is a member of several boards, including Recipe’s, and is currently working with First Nations companies, governments, and NGOs as a consultant to advance progressive initiatives in relation to Indigenous people and communities. Kim served from 1999 - 2012 as the elected Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation for six terms and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Order of British Columbia and a member of the Order of Canada. She holds an Institute of Corporate Directors designation, a Doctor of Law Honoris Causa and an Associate Degree in General Arts.
The learning session began with a land acknowledgement by Recipe. Kim called in from Tsawwassen First Nation on the west coast and acknowledged Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation where Recipe headquarters is located. You too can see and acknowledge which Indigenous territory you’re in by visiting https://native-land.ca/.
Terminology is something that many people find difficult when talking about Indigenous matters. Kim was quick to help clarify that there are three Indigenous groups recognized in Canada - First Nation, Inuit, and Metis. If you are unsure of which group you should be referring to, you can just use “Indigenous”. She explained that her expertise is in advancing First Nation rights, therefore she would be providing her knowledge through this lens.
Kim shared with us the pressing issues that First Nation communities are facing including low income levels, poor health, overrepresentation in the child welfare system and the justice system, poor housing and education levels, and high addiction rates.
But what led to these disparities? That’s where looking back at Canada’s history comes in.
Kim continued to speak of the federal treatment of Indigenous peoples from contact to the mid-20th century, outlining the restrictive systems and policies that were implemented including the Indian Act, the reservation system, and residential schools. First Nations resisted every step of the way through litigation and political organizations, however these restrictions still took effect.
So what is being done by the government now?
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) provided those affected by the Residential Schools system with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. The commission spent six years traveling to all parts of Canada to hear from First Nation people who had been forcibly taken from their families as children and placed for much of their childhood in residential schools. The TRC’s Final Report is a testament to the courage of each and every survivor and family member who shared their story and included 94 calls to action, including the call for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
There are a number of ways you can get involved in reconciliation. Whether you want to expand your understanding or take action, please see below some additional resources.
Things to Read:
Indigenous Businesses to Support:
Things to Watch:
Ways to take action:
CBC Indigenous Channels and APTN (social and website) - latest news and current affairs from Indigenous communities across Canada
Here are some events happening on September 30th:
• Tk’emlúpsTeSecwépemc Nation asks ‘people around the world’ to drum for the missing children of Indian residential schools, at 2:15pm PDT: http://ow.ly/EZta50GcczQ
• Canadian History through an Indigenous Lens, online learning event hosted by the First Nations Technology Council, 10am-Noon PDT. Info/register: http://ow.ly/G7gR50Gdpmk