As the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools nears its halfway point in its five year mandate, its 2012 report makes clear that when they are through, the dialogue about the colonial treatment of First Nations can finally begin. Writing in The Dominion, Sandra Cuffe reminds us that the commission itself was the result of the largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history. So when that dialogue does begin, we should keep in mind it wasn’t at the behest of a conciliatory Government of Canada, but rather, another victory by Indigenous peoples in their long struggle to be treated as human beings.
Perhaps most perceptive of the social context within which it works, the commission’s 2012 report on the state-run residential schools for aboriginal children observes that, “The colonial framework of which they were a central element has not been dismantled.” Dismantling that framework, that was designed to destroy Indigenous community and culture, however, requires a new mindset and a change of heart in Ottawa–something that has yet to be seen.
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