'Let's get on with it': Indigenous advocates demand completion of TRC calls to action

It has been six years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission put together 94 calls to action, and Indigenous people say not enough of them have been implemented and it’s time to pick up the pace.

With the current implementation rate, it will take until at least 2062 to complete all 94 calls to action put forth by the Commission. According to a 2020 status update on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action conducted by Yellowhead Institute, nine actions had been completed as of 2019, but that dropped down to eight in 2020. 

“There hasn't been an implementation plan or tool that's been put in place. I think that if we had an oversight body of some kind, led by Indigenous people we might start to see differences,” Sheila North, former MKO Grand Chief, told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

The discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s remains on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. caused a ripple of grief and anger across the country, one that North says will continue until the government takes action.

“We know very well that this has been wrong and we know that Indigenous people have been treated this way for many generations now and we have to stand together to make sure that politicians follow that will to change things and to change course going forward,” she said.

Michelle Good, a lawyer and author of Five Little Indians, said that missing children and burial sites were part of the calls to action put forth in 2015.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 included six calls to action, number 71 through 76, that came under the heading of missing children and burial information,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

Despite the Truth and Reconciliation Commission having presented a pathway forward to address missing children from residential schools, the government wouldn’t approve a budget for the work.

“That was 2015 for goodness sake, and to me it is deeply resonant and reminiscent of the resistance of the federal government to resolving residential school claims in the first place,” said Good.

North said that the discovery in Kamloops, B.C. opened old wounds, and it’s difficult for Indigenous people to be in a constant battle to get the federal government to hold up its end of the bargain.

“It gets really tiring sometimes and I hope that everyone feels that way and calls for big changes,” she said.

After six years of waiting, it’s time to get on with it and honour the original treaties that called for peaceful coexistence between Indigenous people and settlers, she added.

“Nothing is set up for us to succeed in a big way, so we need to change that, we need to see what the original plan for treaties was, and that is mutual respect and peaceful coexistence and let's get on with it. How many reports are we going to see not implemented, again, again and again?” said North.