The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair

Photo Credit: TRC

This week I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He spoke of what we should do to help First Nations, Inuit, and Metis youth in order to succeed within our society. He said that it starts with answering these four questions:

  1. Where do I come from?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. Why am I here?
  4. Who am I?

One of the greatest issues he spoke about with First Nations youth starts with the child welfare system. He said that the current system is designed to fail those who enter into it. Instead of helping children and families before they enter into the child welfare system we are providing funds to people to foster these children, some of these families are not well suited to foster children and end up having a detrimental influence on youth. The Child Welfare system is flawed and if this system continues to go on in the same way we are just continuing the cycle.

One of the points he made that stood out to me the most was saying the forgiveness is not necessarily a part of reconciliation. Forgiveness is not always possible, and with Canada’s history it is easy to understand why some may not be able to forgive the events of the past. What he did say however, is that there needs to be a way to get rid of the anger that many people may still have. I think that because I will be a teacher, I have a responsibility to teach my students of Canada’s history with First Nations People in order to remove false perceptions and stereotypes that exist within our society. The implementation of First Nations education into the Saskatchewan Curriculum has been met with much hesitation, however we cannot allow those who are against this to stand in our way. We need to help educate our youth to move forward together and understand each other better.

What can we do to make a difference in our schools, in our community and improve the lives of our youth? One thing that we can do to make a difference is reading the Calls to Action of the TRC Report. We can pick one of these calls to action and do something to make it happen. I would like to leave you with one thought, as the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair said, “It’s like planting a tree, we may not see its growth but future generations will see the results.”

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4 thoughts on “The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair

  1. “One of the points he made that stood out to me the most was saying the forgiveness is not necessarily a part of reconciliation. Forgiveness is not always possible, and with Canada’s history it is easy to understand why some may not be able to forgive the events of the past.”

    Hi Lydia,
    I really appreciate that you brought up this point. I find that we often think that forgiveness is meant to benefit the person whom we are asked to forgive. I often find that the reason we forgive is driven by a desire to make peace and move on. While it is true that reconciliation and forgiveness are not synonymous, I believe that anger and divide are. Because these are not our lived experiences, I think that as teachers we must seek out information, promote and model acceptance, and practice empathy with all students. Thank you for your words and ideas regarding this topic. It helped me to realize that change will not be a smooth ride, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t embark on the journey.

    1. I agree with Tori that the discussion of forgiveness is very interesting. Our cultural understanding of forgiveness is deeply embedded in Christian theology. Not to say that only Christians forgive – just that the concept, as we know it, has religious overtones.

      We watched a video in my Ed Psychology class called “When the Chips Are Down” on learning disabilities and discipline. One interesting note was a suggestion to never force children to apologize – that’s essentially forcing and teaching them to lie, if they don’t feel that way. Suggesting it was still recommended, but not forcing it as part of a disciplinary measure.

      I think those two thoughts are connected. Maybe?

      1. I agree with you Zach, they very much can be connected. I think that many times people forgive or apologize to others, like Tori said, to move on. It’s almost a societal pressure and I think many people fall under this pressure rather than letting themselves truly heal.

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