It’s been seven years since the Canadian government formally apologized to indigenous people for the horrific abuses that occurred in church-run residential schools from the late 19th century to the end of the 20th. Now, prime minister Justin Trudeau is promising concrete action for “true reconciliation.”
Speaking at the release of the final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Trudeau announced the Canadian government will work with indigenous leaders and other key partners “to design a national engagement strategy for developing and implementing a national reconciliation framework,” according to The Globe and Mail.
The in-depth report details more than a century of abuses at the schools, which were founded “for the purpose of separating Aboriginal children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission spent six years traveling throughout Canada to collect testimonies about the abuses. The government suggests at least 150,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children were forced to attend these schools in a warped effort by the government to help integrate them into Canadian society.
It quickly emerged that many children were physically and sexually abused, and an estimated 3,200 indigenous children are thought to have died in these schools, though Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, suggests this number could be much higher.
The report makes 94 calls to action, which range from addressing the current disparity in education between aboriginal and non-aboriginal children to the introduction of mandatory lessons on native history. Trudeau has agreed to adopt all the recommendations of the report. He has even called for Pope Francis to formally apologize for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.