Media Releases

Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative and OISE/U of T Respond to Release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report

December 15, 2015

Toron­to, ON — The Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Commission’s final report, tabled yes­ter­day, pro­vides an indeli­ble path­way for our indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive need to heal and rec­on­cile our past in order to move for­ward. Cen­tral to mov­ing for­ward on an improved rela­tion­ship between Indige­nous peo­ple and Cana­di­ans is help­ing young Indige­nous peo­ple and fam­i­lies meet and achieve their edu­ca­tion­al aspi­ra­tions. Pos­i­tive changes in the way edu­ca­tion is deliv­ered and expe­ri­enced for Indige­nous stu­dents will, in turn, make a tan­gi­ble impact on all of the TRC’s 94 rec­om­men­da­tions. As com­mis­sion chair, Hon. Jus­tice Mur­ray Sin­clair has not­ed, “It is through the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem that non-Abo­rig­i­nal Cana­di­ans have been taught what they’ve come to learn about Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples, or not learned about Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples in this country…we believe it is through the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem that infor­ma­tion can be cor­rect­ed.”

There are some promis­ing ini­tia­tives that rein­force Jus­tice Sinclair’s notion that true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion must begin in sup­port­ive and more enlight­ened and enlight­en­ing class­rooms in our pub­lic schools and bet­ter resourced and effec­tive schools on reserve. The estab­lish­ment of the Nation­al Cen­tre of Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­i­to­ba pro­vides an acces­si­ble repos­i­to­ry of his­tor­i­cal records for edu­ca­tors and gov­ern­ment min­istries of edu­ca­tion who need to heed the call to rewrite cur­ricu­lum to share the truth in ser­vice of gen­uine rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. More and more uni­ver­si­ties across Cana­da are includ­ing a manda­to­ry Indige­nous stud­ies course for all stu­dents, regard­less of under­grad­u­ate or grad­u­ate stu­dent sta­tus. Also crit­i­cal is the need for provinces to re-tool the ped­a­gogy and cur­ricu­lum for those who teach in the pre-school, ele­men­tary and sec­ondary lev­els of Canada’s schools to sup­port the aspi­ra­tions of Indige­nous learn­ers and the aware­ness of their non-Indige­nous peers. With new Fed­er­al lead­er­ship, we also hope that the TRC’s rec­om­men­da­tion for long over­due fund­ing equi­ty for on-reserve school­ing rel­a­tive to off-reserve invest­ments in pub­lic edu­ca­tion is in sight.

In this con­text, we too are stead­fast­ly ded­i­cat­ed to respond­ing to the Commission’s call to action. Giv­en that qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion must be informed by excel­lent local school lead­er­ship, we are hope­ful that our recent­ly launched pro­gram to pro­vide lead­ing edge pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for First Nations’ school prin­ci­pals, will make a dif­fer­ence. The Mar­tin Abo­rig­i­nal Edu­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive and the Ontario Insti­tute for Stud­ies in Edu­ca­tion joint­ly lead the First Nations Schools Prin­ci­pals’ Course (FNSPC) for prin­ci­pals of First Nations schools across Cana­da. Our vision is to respond to the needs iden­ti­fied by First Nations polit­i­cal and edu­ca­tion lead­ers by pro­vid­ing a unique, prac­ti­cal learn­ing com­mu­ni­ty expe­ri­ence for the prin­ci­pals that, in turn, will ulti­mate­ly improve stu­dent achieve­ment and well­be­ing for chil­dren and youth in First Nations com­mu­ni­ties. While there is so much more that needs to be done, we applaud the TRC’s imper­a­tive that now is the time to begin anew with spe­cif­ic actions that move us for­ward as a nation. Edu­ca­tion is an essen­tial part of our col­lec­tive progress and ensur­ing high qual­i­ty school lead­er­ship in band-oper­at­ed schools rep­re­sents a strate­gic invest­ment we believe will make a dif­fer­ence.

The Rt. Hon. Paul Mar­tin
Mar­tin Abo­rig­i­nal Edu­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive

Pro­fes­sor Glen Jones
Inter­im Dean, OISE/University of Toron­to

Pro­fes­sor Jean-Paul Restoule
First Nations Schools Prin­ci­pals’ Course Co-Leader