A promise yet to be fulfilled

May 11, 2015

A promise yet to be fulfilled

There’s a buzz in the air as Canada’s capital city gets ready to welcome thousands of people to mark the end of the federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

On April 8, a group of TRC walkers left Cochrane, ON en route to Ottawa. Their goal is to reach Ottawa—some 740 km from home–before the events of May 30–31 begin. The final TRC events will happen June 3.

The walkers’ Facebook page keeps supporters up-to-date on their progress. They are also asking for online donations—for good shoes, for food, and for gas for their support vehicle. Along the way, church groups are welcoming the walkers and offering food and accommodation.

In the weeks to come, Canadians will be hearing, as they have before, about the state and church-sanctioned horror of residential schools. According to Douglas Cardinal, the Order of Canada recipient who will cite Indigenous title as the basis of his appeal to the rezoning of Albert and Chaudière Islands by Ottawa city council, the lives of many in First Nations’ communities still meet the criteria for “horrific.” He sees this first-hand as he visits and works to build hospitals and cultural centres across the country.

What does reconciliation mean? Is a different relationship between the Crown and First Nations possible? What will the TRC’s final report suggest as paths to reconciliation?

For the TRC’s final days, the ecumenical group KAIROS has developed a full agenda, open to people of all nations and faiths who want to discuss these important questions. Church groups across the city will be hosting visitors and holding their own services and events.

The TRC’s list of events includes a public walk across the historic Ottawa River, from the city of Gatineau to the plaza of Ottawa City hall on Sunday, May 31. Rumours abound that a famous Cree singer from Saskatchewan will grace us with a performance.

Our citizens’ group will be talking to people about securing space for Indigenous culture and people to have a presence in the nation’s capital, on the islands at the base of Chaudière Falls. Watch for our banners, especially during the May 31 walk from Gatineau to Ottawa.

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