My biggest problems with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Or the TRC) or, the effort of the Canadian Government are twofold. I am humbled and amazed by the resilience and strength of survivors of the residential school system who have come forward with their stories and been brave enough to take part in the TRC and find relief in breaking their silence, but I still feel there are a few things very troubling about the process as it’s been practiced. 

First of all: 

1.) The onus largely appears to be on Indigenous people who survived the residential school system or their descendants to take part in this. At every single TRC event that I’ve been to, it’s been majority Indigenous peoples at these events, most of whom have a personal connection to residential schools. What’s the problem with this? It allows the majority of non-Indigenous Canadians to absolve their responsibility to be aware of this history, acknowledge it, and work through it. Ordinary, non-Indigenous Canadians need to know this history and be aware of the impact. This wasn’t something that happened ages ago; the last residential school in Canada closed for good in 1996. 

2.) The intention of the TRC appears to be based on that rather annoying Western concept of receiving Closure (with a capital C, yes) and being able to “move on” and have things be better. Closure as a concept isn’t very helpful here; after the TRC is complete, there will still be people who were wounded by residential school system and the Canadian government and Canadian population’s responsibilities towards addressing this genocidal legacy will not end with the TRC. Closure is also a very hilariously Western concept, which does not translate to Indigenous worldviews that see events happening in a more cyclical, ongoing fashion. Promoting the TRC as the last step is an absurd lie. It’s step one on a long journey that doesn’t end any time soon, and may very well not have a concrete ending, period. 

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