National Day for Truth and Reconciliation remains largely Indigenous

Canada’s troubled relationship with the original inhabitants of the lands upon which our nation was established is a legacy that many Canadians would just as soon forget. “The past is the past and why can’t everyone just move on” is an oft-heard refrain. But ignorance is not bliss.

Canada has much to be proud of as a nation, especially since our nation has moved on from its white-bread scion of Empire roots to become a multi-cultural beacon to the world. But the high moral ground to which Canada has aspired since its coming of age as a nation with the patriation of our Constitution and accompanying Charter of Rights stands as hypocrisy unless we address our colonialist past and the systemic racism which continues to plague our institutions.

Canada’s relationship with the Indigenous peoples of these lands remains a blot upon our national honour—so quaintly referred to in court documents as “the honour of the Crown.” It is a relationship that will not be healed through the dedication of one single day in the year, our National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but it would be a start. Unfortunately, the only adults who seem to be taking part in the events being held on the day are either Indigenous or one of the handful of “usual suspect” paler faces who show up to every event.

Reconciliation is not a one-way street. It takes two to tango, goes the old saying, and that is certainly true when it comes to repairing interpersonal relationships all the way up to those between nations.

We need to see more non-Indigenous folks taking part in “reconciliation” events. Wanting to reconcile, to make amends, to truly put the past behind us and move forward does not come about by burying and ignoring the past. That approach leads only to wounds that continue to fester and systems that continue to oppress. We, as a nation and as a people, are better than that. Let’s all do our part to build bridges.

If each one of us makes the effort to attend at least one reconciliation event in the coming year, such a message it would send to our friends and neighbours. Not only would we stand in recognition of uncomfortable truths, but we might also well learn something about each other that will strengthen our relationships.

In a world that seems to be going mad around us, let our nation be a beacon of reason and reconciliation and build new and stronger foundations for our country. The past may be the past, but together we can build a future of which we can all be proud.