Editorial: Reconciliation in name only

With the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation fast approaching, the federal government once again proves how its only interest in First Nations is as political pawns. Graphic Carl Bindman

Election season is over and—like clockwork—campaign promises begin to fall by the wayside.

One of the promises that consistently falls short is that of reconciliation; the magic word thrown around every time the topic of Indigenous issues is brought up.

Reconciliation is one of the many topics that, despite it supposedly being near and dear to every politician's heart, never truly gets addressed. It’s a great talking point, but real and substantive action is rare if even existent. 

Just this week—mere days before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation—the federal government appealed a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order to properly fund First Nations child welfare agencies. So, instead of honouring the victims of the residential school system—the very victims whose bodies were found in unidentified graves all over the country—the government has decided to take the next generation of children to court.

Everything from crumbling infrastructure to massive widespread health crises is either ignored or put on the backburner while $600 million is spent on an election that functionally changes nothing. First Nations across the country struggle to have access to clean water to this day. Canada is consistently one of the highest-rated countries in terms of water quality so how is it possible for anyone within its borders to live under a constant boil-water advisory.

While the institutions that do acknowledge Indigenous genocide teach it as history, the horrible reality is that the genocide has just been disguised and rebranded to be more palatable for those unaffected by it. Indigenous land is still being seized and trampled, the Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and 2-Spirit People crisis has no end in sight, and Indigenous people are still disproportionately imprisoned all over the country.

The genocide against the First Nations of Canada has been camouflaged, turned into a series of bureaucratic thumb-twirlings used to run out the clock until the public’s attention is drawn to something else.

We at The Link still hold out hope for reconciliation, but it absolutely cannot be on the government’s terms. Reaching out to Indigenous leaders, hearing their stories, and understanding their perspectives and needs only gets you so far, now we have to act on it. 

As the former senator from Manitoba, Judge Murray Sinclair once said: “We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.”