International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Edmonton: A year of reconciliation

This week marks the one year anniversary since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded in Edmonton.This commission was set up over 5 years ago in order to investigate what happened in the residential schools that were set up to “eliminate parental involvement  in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of Aboriginal children” across Canada. Following the truth commission, Mayor Don Iveson declared the first year following the commission as the “year of reconciliation”. In its efforts towards reconciliation the city of Edmonton set  three goals in order to improve relations with indigenous residents. One of its goals included creating more spaces for the celebration of aboriginal culture. By creating such spaces the government is ensuring that the aboriginal population in Edmonton has access to their culture and their identity. It allows for children to connect with their aboriginal heritage and furthermore it allows for the indigenous people to do cultural awareness training. This is important in achieving reconciliation because the residential schools significantly damaged the indigenous culture’s development, so by doing this it is a form of reparation for the damages done. Specifically in Edmonton, the government is working with indigenous people in order to build a sweat lodge. A sweat lodge is a place in which people can pray, meditate, teach or even host community gatherings. In helping build this type of space the government is acknowledging the victims due to the nature and purpose of the structure. As we discussed in class, truth commissions, more specifically the recommendations can bring about reparations to the victims and families through the elicited responses and actions after the release of the report. Luckily in the Canadian case, the findings of the commission have been well received and the government in conjunction with the indigenous community have worked together towards reconciliation by not only memorializing the past but also looking forward in sustaining and promoting aboriginal culture of the future.

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