Reconciliation means taking action

September 29, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

To mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

As we commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we renew our commitment to rebuilding a relationship with Indigenous peoples as partners on the healing journey forward.

Key to this journey of reconciliation is education. It is everyone’s responsibility to learn the truth about the atrocities of our past and understand how these harms and injustices continue to affect the lives of Indigenous people today.

Residential school survivors and Indigenous communities have long carried the pain from firsthand knowledge of what happened at residential schools, and grief of the missing children who never returned home. It is long past time for all non-Indigenous people in Canada to educate themselves and assume the resulting responsibility. Without truth, there can be no reconciliation. We must commit to ensuring that this knowledge is passed on to future generations so that they, too, can play an active role in reconciliation.

Also key to this journey of reconciliation is justice. Indigenous peoples should not have to bear the burden of having to fight for justice. Meaningful action must come from leaders at all levels.

Many recommendations already exist, including in the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The action plan released in June by the federal government outlines important steps forward to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. We see this as a long-overdue step on the path to reconciliation and improving Indigenous human rights.

This is only just beginning. Canada must continue to take concrete steps to address the injustices, prejudice, violence, systemic racism and discrimination that Indigenous peoples in this country continue to face.

The Commission joins the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People in calling for increased support for the implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Accessible, affordable, adequate and safe housing for Indigenous peoples, in particular, must be prioritized.

Today, and every day, let’s honour all Indigenous peoples in Canada – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and commit to moving together towards a better future.

– 30 –

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