79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:
i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.
ii. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.
iii. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.
The affects of residential schools can be seen widespread throughout Indigenous communities. It has often been referred to as a ‘cultural genocide’ as it had horrendous impacts on Indigenous culture and practices as children were stripped from their native identities and forced into an institution that glorified abuse in the name of religion and order.
However, it can be also be understood that Indigenous people have played a very prominent role in the development of Canada, from contributing to the war of 1812 as they helped protect British forces from invading Americans to fighting in the first world war.
By implementing this recommendation, it would recognize the impact that Indigenous people have had in Canadian history while paying tribute to their culture. It is vital in order for reconciliation to occur that Canadians are able to see the value of Indigenous people in our heritage while celebrating their rich and diverse background nationally.
Aboriginal History in Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Compiled by: Nicole Elie