Reaction to the TRC: Not all opinions are equal or valid

After six years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada held closing events from May 31 to June 3rd, and issued its executive summary of a report which will run to six volumes, and will be translated into six Indigenous languages. The summary itself is 388 pages, and while not exactly light reading, it is incredibly accessible and well-written. Unfortunately, despite incredible media attention and a plethora of opinion articles on the issue, it has become abundantly clear that many people talking about the TRC summary have not read it. (I will not be linking to the more egregious examples of this, as I am also not here to provide platforms for ignorant bigots to spout their bile.)

I don’t necessarily fault people for not having read the summary. Yet. I was flooded with requests to do interviews and provide comments on the executive summary on the day it was released, and in the days after. I hadn’t read the summary at that point and I certainly did not feel comfortable speaking about it until I had. I know many people simply have not had the time to go through the summary, and it seems a bit unreasonable to expect that they would have within a few hours or even days of its release.

I do expect people to read it, however, before they offer their opinions on what it says. To me, that is not at all unreasonable. If you want to opine on a subject, shouldn’t you know something about it first?

There is this pernicious claim floating out there that all opinions are equally valid. Sure, if the opinions in question are about which berry reigns above all (saskatoons, obviously). You do not need to research berries to have an opinion on this. I would even suggest you do not need to actually taste any berries to have an opinion on this; make your judgment on looks alone, if you wish!

However, if you are going to write a piece in a national paper about what the TRC summary has to say, you’d better read it. You should not be given access to a platform otherwise. And given the fact that pages 341 – 345 of the summary discuss the role that media has to play in reconciliation, it is irresponsible for media outlets to be providing platforms to people who speak from positions of profound ignorance.

I understand the pressure to immediately get opinions out there on stories which are literally ‘breaking news’. I do hope that the interest in the topic does not simply die down a week or two after the release of the report, and that more informed discussions are had in the media in the months to come.

With that in mind, I’d like to implore all of you to take the time to become familiar with at least the executive summary. The first few paragraphs are explosive, naming Canada’s conduct via the Residential School system as cultural genocide. Before you fully embrace or reject this statement, read on! See if summary makes this case convincingly. Explore your reactions! Question your reactions! Challenge your beliefs!

There are five sections to this summary, all well worth reading. The Introduction explains why the TRC was necessary, and more importantly it defines how it is using the controversial term “reconciliation”. The Commission Activities section lays out exactly what lengths the TRC went to in order to gather survivor’s stories, and how it began laying the groundwork for wider education on the topic. I personally had no idea that so many events were held across the country! This section also discusses how the Canadian government had to be taken to court repeatedly in order to force the disclosure of documents essential to the TRC’s mandate.

The History section does an amazing job of laying out global colonial history as a backdrop to the development of the Residential School system, as well as providing concrete details about the way these schools were designed and operated. In particular “The Imperial Context” subsection which begins on page 47, should be essential reading for everyone. While many of us have learned this history in fits and starts, this section brings together the history of global colonialism in a way I’ve never quite seen before: clearly, succinctly and briefly. It provides an excellent counter-narrative to the one of colonial superiority that so many of us have been inculcated with over our many years of schooling in the Canadian system. The utility of this section goes far beyond the issue of Residential Schools, and should be used in all educational settings. It is followed by “The Assimilation Policy”, which no Canadian should remain ignorant about any longer.

When I began reading the History section, I was worried I would not be able to handle the excerpts from survivor testimonies that are included. To be honest, sometimes I couldn’t. I needed to take many breaks to go hug my kids and just think of less awful things. If you undertake to read this summary, treat yourself kindly. Take the breaks you need, take the time you need.

If you have ever asked “what does all this have to do with the present?” then the Legacy section will provide you with clarity. The impact of Residential Schools on those of us living right now, is fleshed out and clarified for all who have been confused by this. The TRC also begins its recommendations in this section, nesting those recommendations in the exploration of the issues. What you will find is that the first 5 recommendations deal with the child welfare system as it exists TODAY. Huh? Why? Well, you’ll have to read to understand, and please do.

The final section is titled The Challenge of Reconciliation. This section further lays out a path to follow, with more concrete recommendations and reasons for those recommendations being given.

So often we as Indigenous people are asked, “What is it you people WANT?” Well, this summary gives concrete answers to that question. We are not asking that money simply be thrown at us, as is frequently the claim. We are explaining what is wrong, why it happened/happens, and what has to be done in order to create real change. There is no need for further confusion, no need to keep asking what we want. Many of the recommendations echo what Indigenous peoples have been asking for on many levels, for decades and in some cases, centuries.

I would ask that you use this summary report to educate yourself. I would ask that you use this summary report to challenge what you think you know about these issues. I would ask that you question what is being recommended, once you have explored the rationales given. Then, and only then, should you be engaging in conversations about the report. These conversations absolutely must happen if the TRC report is going to mean anything.

These issues are not going away. There is no putting this off indefinitely. At some point, everyone living in these lands has to face what the TRC was set up to investigate. There is no valid excuse to remaining ignorant, when the information is so easily accessible to you. I for one, and more than willing to engage in conversations about the content of the report, as long as people actually read it. I very much hope that people take me up on that offer.

As for those who write and express opinions on the subject without bothering to engage with the research and the material, I promise not to waste energy on you.



Zoe Todd, Erica Lee and Joseph Murdoch-Flowers have started a project to help make the TRC summary even more accessible. They are crowd-sourcing folks to read sections of the report on video. Here is the playlist so far, if you’d rather listen than read!


Andrew Kurjata has converted the TRC summary into a Kindle format, and into epub format for Kobo, Android and iBooks! I downloaded the PDF onto my Kindle and it was awful, I couldn’t zoom or make notes or highlight anything, so I will definitely be giving this a try!

It’s pretty cool how people are taking it upon themselves to make this report as accessible as possible, in so many ways!

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Categories: 60s scoop, Aboriginal law, Comprehensive Claims, Culture, Injustice, Residential schools, Specific Claims

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70 Responses to Reaction to the TRC: Not all opinions are equal or valid

  1. Watachie says:

    I will read the summary, I will listen to all opinions and then I’ll make my own judgement. One thing I will not do, is to be made to feel guilty by a past over which I had no control. Regards funding to First Nations, as a taxpayer I am prepared to see my government allocate resources that are fair and reasonable. I am not prepared to do so however, without signed agreements, plans, oversight etc. by both my government and First Nation representatives. It’s good that you say it’s not just about the money. I agree with you there’s much more.
    And btw, I and many of my friends, family, associates etc. will never agree to more funding for the CBC. That’s simply a non-starter and should be dropped as a condition immediately. I wish you all the success in the world and since my tax dollars are involved, I will be following the discussions carefully. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

    • Feel free to come back for further discussion once you’ve gone through the report, and thanks for making the commitment to taking the time to read it!

    • John Bastable says:

      My awareness and understanding has increased significantly over the past few months, partly from social media interaction and partly from the TRC report. What I’ve learned is that the various indigenous nations that comprise “First Nations” were intended to have a partnership at the “national” level with Canada (“Settlers”). And that we need to turn to the “Treaties” and certainly not the Indian ACT.

      The residential school horror-show was/is but one chapter in a long history of Canada reneging on the deal. While we did not have direct participation in the actions of our predecessors, we are direct beneficiaries. As the “Settler Nation”, we need not feel guilt; we do need to accept/embrace the truth of the past, and go forward in the spirit of reconciliation and partnership with our partner-nation.

      And reflecting on past “land dispute’ incidents, I recall being conflicted – e.g. Caledonia, Ipperwash (Dudley George), Oka – probably because I did not have the information/knowledge that I now have. I’m not conflicted anymore; too bad they didn’t teach this stuff to me in school (1962-1975).

      More recently, I listened to Pam Palmeter explain that the FNs represent the last line of defense (my words) for all of us in terms of protection of natural resources, as their rights are bound by treaty, not by Canadian law. Which makes Bill C51 even more ominous.

      Not sure if I’ve framed this entirely correctly; still learning after all these years.

    • Zed says:

      Funny thing, that: I and many of my friends, family, associates, etc. will absolutely agree to more funding for the CBC. My tax dollars are involved too, Watachie, and unless you’re somehow suggesting that your tax dollars somehow trump others’ tax dollars, I think it would be more productive to present a more reasoned approach to decision-making.

      We’re all tax payers – even the five-year-old kid who buys a pack of gum at the corner store.

      You say it’s not just about the money, but then you fall back on the old “my tax dollars” rhetoric. Can’t have it both ways. Seriously, forget the money (for the record, we’re a rich country – and we seem to have lots of money to throw around on things like gazebos and fake lakes and ad campaigns and perpetual appeals of court rulings). If this whole situation could be solved by throwing money at it, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. In fact, it’s largely money that’s to blame for the problem in the first place. Money and greed.

      Now it’s time for a different approach. Getting defensive isn’t going to solve anything. The first step is acknowledgement, no matter how painful that is. Other nations have had to take ownership of their ugly histories too. It can be done, and we’ll all be the better for it.

      • If you want the CBC to have more money, you can always write them a cheque. Then you don’t have to waste Watachie’s!

        Of course, that same argument can save tax dollars from being wasted on the other TRC recommendations, none of which is worth enacting.

  2. How DARE you claim saskatoons as Regus Berrius! EVERYONE with any TASTE knows full well that the vaccinium ovalifolium – that’s the blueberry to plebs like you – is TRULY overlord of all wildfruit. Your saskatoons might be some petty noble, but the blueberry is the god from which all berry devine power derivies! It even grows on Newfoundland, fergawdssakes!

    (Yes, you are absolutely correct on the bias and bigotry evident in article comments, and even some commentators. And also correct that practically any subject will garner such talk.)


      Oooh I had Newfoundland blueberry wine a few times, it reminded me a lot of my kookum’s raspberry hooch! Good stuff 🙂

      • Donna Anthony says:

        But unless you have had blueberry grunt, as made in NS, you really don’t know the blueberry.
        Reading your excellent blog with great interest, and will continue my efforts not to be ignorant of the crimes settlers committed and continue to commit and benefit from to this day.
        Thank you,

  3. haley says:

    Thank you for this post, well all of your posts really, I am currently reading the TRC report summary, I remember listening to the statements and by listening, I was educated about the multi-generational impact which did not even occur to me at the time (how obvious really if one ‘thinks’ about it) I do have a question, because I am from the US, how did the TRC develop? Maybe this means doing more research on my own, but I would love to see a press conference of this magnitude take place in the US. Though I know the dream is there for the hope. In Arizona they removed books essential to teaching multiple perspectives of history, including Rethinking Columbus, as well as multilingual books the fact that this happened in 2012 astonishes me, as well as angers me. they removed the books while students were in the class room. As I read the TRC report, along with those WHO DO, I hope the influence of the report will expand across borders.

    • From the TRC site:

      With the support of the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit organizations, former residential school students took the federal government and the churches to court. Their cases led to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. The agreement sought to begin repairing the harm caused by residential schools. Aside from providing compensation to former students, the agreement called for the establishment of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada with a budget of $60-million over five years.

      The TRC carried out its mandate for 6 years, with many national events, an interim report, and all sorts of related educational programs going on across the country. More info on specifically what the TRC did during its mandate can be found in the Commission Activities section here: (page 33 in the pdf web-browser).

      I am actually very interested in seeing if this report will have any effect on the US. These are definitely issues that are shared by Indigenous peoples in the US, though the specific legislation and policies invoked vary somewhat.

      • halely says:

        Thank you, yes once i read more of the introduction I see how it put together, wow what collaboration, I am now just beginning the history section, I shared with my sister some quotes from the TRC summary about how both sides need healing, I think that so much of the bigotry and apathy towards indigenous peoples comes from a sickness, idk tho, I do know this summary is amazingly well written, and I will definitely need to reflect, and hope that this will inspire some much needed healing in the US.

  4. I haven’t read the summary, so I won’t comment on it, but as a former broadcaster and someone who has been watching the media circus, I feel qualified to comment on that.

    I believe that the TRC report will fuel a whole lot of media in the coming years – if for no other reason, the morbid curiosity factor which drives so much media. The fact is that Canada has collective, willful amnesia on many bits of our history. It’s almost as if the timeline goes: confederation-railroad-trudeaumania, and skips anything the least bit damaging to our self esteem. As you point out, and as everyone points out, the Residential Schools were not distant past (unless you start counting at 9/11, as so many seem to be doing) and the fallout will be felt for decades. The use of ‘cultural genocide’ by the media as a hot-topic sound bite IS fuelling discussion, which is hard to get out of most people on anything other than politics or hockey.

    I believe the real impact of the TRC, and the media coverage, is that it has shattered the illusions of many people. Yes, there are the small minded who will never open their brains to anything. But I think many of us Euro-Canucks (what derogatory thing are we supposed to call ourselves? We’ve got names for every other group) suffered from willful blindness. We didn’t know and didn’t want to know. and probably still would refuse to know, except that we have been hammered over and over now with ‘cultural genocide’ and ‘real genocide’ and the heart-wrenching stories. There is no parent who, hearing any of the stories of stolen children, who did not go hug theirs. Who did not feel the agony and ache deep down. And that (very minor) wounding of ourselves is now a sore which we must examine. And we will, because we now cannot bear NOT knowing.

    Will the report be read? I doubt it; not by the public. But will it be drawn upon by those who create content? Damn right. I expect TV, movies, documentaries, literature, music, and every other kind of fine art will draw upon the report as source material.

    Here in Newfoundland, the Mt. Cashel Orphanage was a huge scandal, and the commission report massive, but few have read it. However, the numerous pop-culture references, Michael Harris’ book, and a film helped embed the events into the public consciousness. And I see the same happening with the TRC report.

    • Do you think that many Canadians are aware of the TRC? I know that folks who are tuned into Canadian media have been unable to avoid it, but I’ve found so far that hardly any non-Indigenous people I know were aware that the TRC held its closing events last week, much less know what it was all about or that there was a report put out.

      • Regina Sheere says:

        I am non indigenous and I knew about it. As well I posted info on it in my FB page and hope that others will read it. As well I have read books and stories on the Residential schools. All of them heart wrenching.

      • In terms of “Commission”, “report” , “closing events” – I’d say that many people may have not been paying attention as it came up. That’s a normal reaction; we only pay attention to things which directly involve us (I advocate for veterans and awareness is a challenge there as well). Besides, any news story with Commission in it is likely to generate apathy.

        However, once the report hit the table, and the media grabbed on to ‘cultural genocide’ and example stories of Residential Schools hit, I am positive that people who may have zoned out before suddenly started paying attention. I believe that within the last few weeks, awareness skyrocketed, and with images that one cannot shake.

        Will that change policy? Or help get the resolutions adopted? Probably not. But it has changed the equation greatly. The attitudes which fuelled the genocide – that FN are not humans, are equivalent to animals – mostly only exist in racists. The apathetic 80% don’t think that way; but also weren’t thinking about the issue. Now we are, and are shocked at what was and is being done. That makes us pay more attention to everything now, from child protection to water and the reservation system.

        One thing which Canadians have always been good at is taking action, once we get moving. Many of the major controversial issues in the past, like the abortion debate, gay marriage, etc, have finally been settled when the 80% who didn’t have much of an opinion to begin with suddenly woke up and got fed up. Then we take a look and make a decision based on fairness and, honestly, wanting everyone to shut up about it. Which is why those debates don’t get reopened. 5 Years ago, most Canadians thought veterans were well cared for. Now, 90% (according to recent polls) think they aren’t and that something needs to be done.

        I believe that the TRC report is the beginning of a similar process: people who didn’t know and weren’t paying attention to FN issues have suddenly been kicked in the mind. The dismissiveness and somebody-elses-problem attitudes are now very difficult to maintain. It won’t change the minds of ‘those that KNOW’ bigots, but it means the general population will actually notice and ask questions. Like “Why is Aboriginal Affairs NOT spending their budget???”

        Anyway, time will tell, but I think having the Truth out really is the beginning of reconciliation.

  5. Perry Bulwer says:

    Here’s a list of the TRC’s 94 recommendations.

    • I am hoping that people do not just read the recommendations. They need to be read, imo, in the context provided in the summary, not just as stand-alone recommendations.

      • Perry Bulwer says:

        I agree. The list is only a useful tool if used appropriately, in context, as part of an analysis of the summary and entire report.

  6. I think I naively thought that when this report was released the bigotry and ignorance would abate somewhat. You can well imagine my horror reading some of the comments on even the CBC articles. While I did expect a residual effect, I thought surely now they will see. Unfortunately, there are none so blind as those who will not see and alas, as a country, we will continue to be lead by those who have a total inability to find the end of their nose. Where do I go from here?

    • I fully expected the nastiness we’re seeing. It’s one thing to be told “Canada did bad things”, and quite another to be told “Canada did the WORST thing: genocide”.

      Canadians are very firmly invested in a self-image of Canada as a just and peaceful nation, better than the US, and one that can be proud of its international and domestic policies. This report wounds deep, and it is bringing a lot of feelings to the surface. We can’t avoid that, however. If Canada wants to live up to the reputation it envisions for itself, then it has to address historic evils, and it must address the way those historic evils impact contemporary realities. Trying to bury these things or ignore or minimize them simply will not work…but it’s an understandable impulse.

      I think that once more Canadians understand and accept that some kind of redemption is possible, going into the future, there will be less resistance, and less bile. In the meantime, there is a lot of ugliness to drain.

      Reading the report is a good step. Then trying to figure out what you can do, as an individual, would be the next.

    • You go where we all should: post, share, discuss, and call people out. Always remember that those who comment on news items are from the 20% with opinions from either end of the issue. In this case, those who are bigots, and those who already knew the truth. That critical 80% in the middle of any issue are the ones that need to be swayed, and nothing drives them into one camp faster than hatred and bigotry from the other side. It doesn’t take deep understanding of the issue to spot racists, and the louder those people shout, the faster people united against them.

      When I first got involved with advocating for veterans, it happened that way. I was shocked at Col Pat Stogran’s press conference and what he was saying about how veterans were treated. I found him on twitter and asked what lowly me could do to help. His words: “Tell people!” Five years later and Canadians now understand, because of all the people who have been talking.

      So the answer for FN is the same: tell people. Don’t preach to the choir and those who know; tell the 80% who weren’t paying attention. Who don’t WANT to be on the side with the bigots. Who don’t live near an aboriginal community. Finally, we are listening. Keep talking to us.

  7. One of the frustratingly common mistakes in media reporting on the TRC is that the government established it. Implicit in this is the idea that the government established the TRC out of benevolence, goodwill or a desire to do right. This absolutely is not the case. The TRC is the result of an out-of-court settlement; the government funded the TRC because it had to.

    • Exactly. I have seen many people bemoan the ‘taxpayers dollars’ that supposedly went into creating the TRC, as though it was a choice given to the government. However, I think even once it becomes more well known that the monies flowed from court settlement, the same complaints will be made, because regardless, when the government is found at fault it must use tax monies to pay off the judgment.

      However, there is a vast difference between an out of court settlement and choosing to establish a Commission. This does need to be understood more widely. Then people can explain why Canadian legal principles regarding compensation should be applied in every case except where Indigenous peoples are the claimants. While simultaneously claiming to not be racists.

      • Not entirely the media or Canadians fault; the Harper spindoctors have been promoting that perspective in an effort to show his concern. I have been paying attention, and I only just learned that Harper’s apology was also part of that settlement, and not out of remorse.

        Keeping hammering those points home. People will at least check to see if you are right and truth is with you.

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  9. Rhiana says:

    @Watachie, who’s asking you to feel guilty? Personally, I think outrage is more productive.

  10. We finally have a report that can substantiate the historiography of Canada. Beyond that, I doubt it will make a difference; for the time being. For the minority of Canadians that are or will take the TRC recommendations seriously, we can say hooray. For the majority, this report remains a document, nothing more nothing less. Probably even less.

    Will the voting public support a federal platform that supports legislative changes in favour of FNs? Time will tell. Until then, it’s all huff and puff….and the house falls down.

  11. Eleanor Grant says:

    Do you know if the report is available as a hard-copy book we can buy? I’m darned if I’m going to squint my way through a 300+ page pdf! I do hope I can get it at a bookstore. Thanks for all your revealing blogs Sister.

    • I too would like to get a hard copy eventually! I’m not sure it’s available yet. You can zoom in on the pdf in your browser though, which is what I do because my eyes are terrible 🙂

  12. Barb says:

    Hello, i will also look at this report and hopefully get back to you. I am very curious as to why more has not been done. Why the Harper Government is not responding with more responsible manner. Shoving it aside and saying, “maybe one day we can aspire to this, just not now!!”

  13. Bill Dare says:

    I linked/posted part of your comment into, A mental health digital forum. I have to say I had a flashback, so to speak with the Royal Commission and what happened and not, with it. Thanks for encouraging us to think.

  14. Christo says:

    This may not be related to this post. Just listened to you on CanadaLand. Thank-you. You stated that decolonization meant that “we get the Land back and get to make our own decisions for this land”. I must say respectfully that without any context, this statement does scare me a little. Who do you mean by “We”? And what Land? Are you talking about the whole land that is now called Canada? I am the children of immigrants, do you want me to leave this land?

    • I do mean all the land, and I’m referring to the Indigenous nations in each of their territories. It would not mean forcing people out but it might mean limiting expansion. We need to be able to make decisions that impact our territories, not just be counted in sometimes via ‘consultation’. How would this look exactly? It would vary. In most cases it would necessarily involve dialogue with non-Indigenous people’s living in the area. Fundamentally it would require Canada to admit and accept it does not ‘own’ these lands.

      • Christo says:

        Thank-you.That puts your statement into a context I can better understand. I do hope Indigenous Nations will one day feel at home here, I do hope one day they can call me brother in their language.

        Ekosi maka,

        • Christo says:

          Just to be clear. Your sentence says “I do mean all the land”. Do I read this right?

          • Yes. Everything considered part of Canada.

          • Christo says:

            Respectfully, how can you claim that “We” own the land? Who is “We”? Am I part of this “We”? I mean I live here as well. It’s not like I decided where I was born. Should “We” not include the both of us?

          • haley says:

            I think the land should go to those who have protected it, healed it, understood the place which the land creates, that way the land will be there for others

      • Christo says:

        I guess this is why I can’t espouse your viewpoint. Your “We” does not include “Me”, even if I live here. I think that’s just as bad as the colonialism you denounce.

        • Please read the report before continuing to respond. The issue of land is actually explained in some good detail in the History section. Some of your questions will be answered there, which saves me having to personally take the time to catch you up (something I have stated I am unwilling to do).

  15. haley says:

    As Elder Crowshoe explained further, reconciliation requires talking, but our conversations must be broader than Canada’s conventional approaches. Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, from an Aboriginal perspective, also requires reconciliation with the natural world. If human beings resolve problems between them- selves but continue to destroy the natural world, then reconciliation remains incomplete.18 • Truth & Reconciliation Commission Introduction

    • Christo says:

      If you just read his blog, it will also require this catch-phrase: “All the land needs to be given back”, which can mean a lot of things. To which I ask “to whom”? Who is going to determine who is Indigenous enough to “own” the land. And what happens to those who don’t “own” the land? Apparently “limiting their expansion”. And all that invariably means is excluding people who may not be indigenous enough but were also born here. Sorry, I can’t adhere to that. And so can’t a lot of Indigenous people who live here. I’ve seen enough of this nationalism in my lifetime.

      • Bye!

        You haven’t expended a shred of energy to actually educate yourself on the topic you’re responding to, which is hilarious yes, because the entire article is about exactly that. Asking people, like yourself, to stop commenting on things you are completely ignorant about. Educate YOURSELF first with the information provided, before you swing into a conversation demanding you receive personal tutoring (for free).

        If you truly want me to expend MY energy and share MY expertise without you having to do the work first, I will accept a $150/hr consulting fee, with an initial booking cost of $250. Otherwise, you’re on your own until you demonstrate the least shred of good faith and actually get off your ass to learn the basics before blathering on the way you have been. (You’re IP banned for now, to clarify, you don’t get more space to whine.)

  16. Andrea says:

    Section 52 asks that Aboriginal people be able to claim title to land based on establishing ownership of the land at a certain point in time. How would this principle be used to determine who does or does not have title to a certain land for people of mixed ancestry? What about numerous groups who have resided there over time?

    • What do you mean by people with mixed ancestry? If you mean Métis (which does not include any and all people of mixed FN/European ancestry), there are already two ‘timeframes’ set up. Occupation at the time of Contact is generally the standard for First Nations, and in the case of the Métis, it is occupation at the time of Crown assertion of sovereignty.

      For overlapping claims, where various First Nations have shared the same territory at different points in time, something has to be worked out among those claimants. That process should not be interfered with by Canada.

      What an implemented recommendation 52 would change is the burden of proof. Right now, the entire burden of proof is on Aboriginal peoples to make a claim, prove the claim, and prove that there should be no limitations on the claim (like being told okay sure you have title, but since Canada wants to cut timber on your lands and there is a pressing economic reason to do so, sorry, that’s just what we’ll do!). Canada is assumed to have Crown title to lands unless this process is successful! This recommendation says the burden of proof should be on Aboriginal peoples only to prove occupation at the relevant time, and after that, the burden of proof should shift to Canada to impose conditions or limitations.

      • Andrea says:

        I did not mean Métis people specifically but rather people who have mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry. Would the community decide who has enough Aboriginal ancestry to claim title to the land or would Canada?

        • Within the paradigm of the TRC summary, Canada should not be determining who belongs to which Indigenous community. Those decisions were made pre-Contact by Indigenous peoples themselves, and Indigenous peoples should be the one making those decisions now.

          • Andrea says:

            But how does one who has Aboriginal ancestry but may have lost touch with the community claim membership? Is the decision to accept or not accept someone communally-decided by each group?

          • Yes, it should be. Right now, it is not. One has to jump through incredibly convoluted hoops dictated by the Canadian government to gain Status, and then membership (actual belonging in a specific community) may be decided by the community itself, OR by the Canadian government. It really depends. Legal status and community membership are two different things.

            Prior to the imposition of the Indian Act, each First Nation enacted its own laws of citizenship. Indigenous kinship tends to be expansive rather than restrictive, which is very much at odds with the overly-restrictive policies enforced by the Canadian government.

  17. Frederick Peeitzsche says:

    Perhaps, to allow more people to better understand the TRC commission report, the article published in Maclean’s Magazine June 15,2015, titled “It could have been me” should be compulsive reading in every school in Canada, you will meet 13 extraordinary women, and ,maybe you will have real tears in your eyes. In most cases the residential schools were the root of it all.

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  21. Baneshequa says:

    Wondering if anyone knows how to arrange for Andrew Kurjata’s Kindle version of the TRC Summary to posted as a free Kindle book on Also, shares links to many free, or reduced price, Kindle books. These options may be helpful in making the summary accessible.

  22. Pingback: So long and thanks | Urbane Adventurer: Amiskwacî

  23. Pingback: 94ways: how we will ensure the TRC report is not the RCAP report | WAYNE K. SPEAR | WRITER

  24. Louise says:

    I have been following your website for a while now and would just like to thank you for shedding light on Aboriginal issues and offering to answer questions about things such as the TRC report. I have also been following you on Twitter and am still in shock at some of the things that are said to you on a daily basis. That said, I did notice that you will sometimes respond to white women who are saying bigoted things as ‘Becky’. This bothers me because I think that using a proper name as an insult is unnecessarily hurtful to women who carry this name but especially so to women of colour who are also named Rebecca (Rebecca Walker and Becky Gomez, to give famous examples, but also people in my own circle of friends) and stereotyped in this way. While I do not believe in tone policing or being ‘nice’ to people who are saying awful things, I think that there are ways to insult people who are being racist that do not turn someone’s given name into a negative connotation. I’d really like to know what you think of this.

    • Sorry, but I’m sure the real Beckys of the world will be okay. As will the Felicias. I understand where you’re coming from, but I also do a lot of ‘making fun of stereotypes via people’s names’, particularly on Métis In Space. Given how often non-White names are mocked and used to evoke stereotypes, I think the issue of using stereotypically “White” names as fodder for similar treatment is a statement on Whiteness, as a system, not as a slam against individuals with those names. As such, I’m going to continue to use these names, to challenge their assumed ‘normalcy’. At the same time, I am also advocating for the reclamation of our traditional names.

  25. Louise says:

    What do you mean by challenging their assumed normalcy? I agree that using stereotypically white names to talk about microagressions, address stereotypes, and refer to white people in general in order to critique Whiteness is both acceptable and necessary. For me, the line is drawn when one uses a proper name to insult someone who’s being disrespectful (as in, she’s such a ‘Becky’). While you are right that this will not permanently harm anyone who is named Rebecca (and having a name like that still gives one many advantages over people who have less anglicized names), it is still not okay to use a name that many people carry to insult someone, especially considering that there are many people of colour who also carry that name and may not want to be grouped in as a ‘Becky’.

    • I understand where you draw the line. I feel that I am doing exactly what you say you agree with in your second sentence, and do not believe there is actually a difference between that (using a generic White name to critique Whiteness, addressed to no one) and actually using the name, addressed to a specific person engaging in typical White derailment.

      Are you a woman of colour, or are you “speaking on behalf of” women of colour? I’d be interested in hearing the reasoning of how, using a stereotypical White name like Becky, to call out a specific individual’s White privilege, is going to make a woman of colour feel like she is being lumped in…with Whiteness. Because that is the specific context. Not “insult, generic” but “shitty behaviour rooted in White privilege and ignorance” which by definition is not privilege women of colour access or wield.

      Bringing up women of colour seems like a huge red herring to obscure the fact that this ‘insult’ is directed at the thoughtless and often violent use of White privilege. And despite the claim to not support tone policing, it doesn’t get much milder than calling a White person “Becky” or “Felicia” or “Chad”. Arguing that critiques should be even milder is basically…tone policing.

      • Louise says:

        I understand your reasoning behind it, but I still feel that using that name to call out problematic behaviour equates it with ‘shitty behaviour’ and ‘White privilege’. I am not named Rebecca, so I am probably not able to speak on just how much of an effect this has on people, but… I still feel as though the associations that have attached themselves to this name in both real life and on the internet create a hurdle for people who are not white and still have to identify as a ‘Rebecca’ every day. Aside from the major difference of this not being at the expense of a marginalized group, I see it a bit like using a term that refers to someone’s sexual orientation or physical or mental abilities to describe how something is ‘bad’.

      • Louise says:

        I think you may be misunderstanding what I’m trying to say. I’m not advocating for lighter or ‘nicer’ language for people who are saying ignorant things—I just believe that using a proper name associates that name with things like ‘white privilege’ or ‘ignorance’, even for people who do not (or cannot, because they do not have White privilege) act that way.

  26. Louise says:

    I did not see the second part of your comment before I posted the first. Yes, calling someone a Becky is not the same as calling someone a slur. That said, the name still becomes associated with bad things (violent use of white privilege) and creates difficulties for those who carry it and are not white.

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