Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will address the importance of reconciliation on campus
In a follow-up with Mi’kmaq History Month, Senator Murray Sinclair will be visiting StFX on November 7th and 8th to deliver a keynote address regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Senator Sinclair , who was the first indigenous judge to serve in Manitoba and just the second indigenous judge to serve in Canada, will also sit on a special student panel to discuss reconciliation.
A member of the Métis/Ojibwa communities, Senator Sinclair recently chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, participating in hundreds of hearings across the country. He then oversaw the culmination and issuance of the commission in 2015, marking its end.
The commission was created by the federal government in conjunction with the National Assembly of First Nations to inform Canadians of the conditions in the residential school system. Administered by the government and the Church, residential schools were used to assimilate indigenous children forced from their homes and families to Christian values and “Western” ideas. The abuse and living conditions the children experienced were horrific.
According to a report by the CBC, approximately 150,000 children were put through the residential school system. Of those 150,000, 6,000 died from the terrible conditions or disasters like fires.
As the number of schools began to decline, support for a lawsuit against the federal government and Churchesgrew. Their case later spawned the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history.
Part of the agreement was thecreation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which sought to expose the truth about the system and to inform the public on the terrible events surrounding the schools.
The findings of the commissions showed that the schools were in operation since 1883 to 1996, with a peak of 80 active schools in 1931. The commission also found that up to 60 percent of the schools were run by the Roman Catholic church.
Up to 80,000 indigenous persons alive today are former students of the program.
The Commission concluded in 2015. Senator Sinclair, along with other officials, have since opened it to the public, sparking the next step in relationship reparations between indigenous communities and the Canadian government.
For his contributions, Sinclair was later appointed Senator by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Cabinet.
At StFX, Senator Sinclair will be attending a panel on November 7th hosted by the Xaverian Weekly, the Aborginal Students at X Society, The Aboriginal Student Affairs Office, The Students’ Union, the Indigenous Studies stream of the Anthropology Department, and the Frank McKenna Centre for Student Leadership. The panel will consist of two indigenous and two non-indigenous panelists. Senator Sinclair will also join in to provide his expertise. All are welcome to participate in this panel, which will take place in McKenna Hall on 4th floor Schwartz.
Discourse of the panel will cover the meaning of reconciliation and steps StFX can take to ensure that reconciliatory policies and practices are put in place. A report will then be published for the community to see, which could be useful for developing policy at StFX.
That same afternoon on the 7th, there will be a Mawi’omi (a pow-wow celebration) held in Desmond Hall in the Coady Institute. The theme of the event is healing and reconciliation.
Senator Sinclair will conclude his visit by delivering a keynote address. All are welcome to participate in “A Conversation on Reconciliation with Senator Murray Sinclair” at 7pm on Tuesday, November 8th in the Schwartz Auditorium.