It has been three weeks since the discovery of 215 children, buried on the grounds of a former residential school.
The revelation has shaken the entire country on a deeply emotional level, and the pain felt in Indigenous communities unimaginable.
The profound tragedy has jolted Canada out of its complacency about the atrocities faced by Indigenous communities. We were lied to by our government: they only showed us the tip of the iceberg, and we believed them. Many Canadians feel ashamed and betrayed as they realize we were listening to the wrong account of his- tory all along. That needs to be rectified.
We commend the quick response of the Ontario government to fund the important work of locating and commemorating the children lost to the residential school genocides. We hope the process will provide some healing and closure for the families and survivors.
But it isn’t enough.
Reconciliation can’t stop with a signed cheque; the hard work of reconciliation rests on all of our shoulders.
Future generations will learn a very different version of history – one with the rosy lens of colonization removed – to expose the full truth. But we can start rewriting history now, by listening to the stories and voices that have been silenced for too long.
The Federation of Ontario Public Libraries has assembled an extensive reading list, for those seeking to understand. It includes Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese, The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King, The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp, and many others.
The University of Alberta has assembled a 12-module open online course, named Indigenous Canada. The content was created by the Faculty of Native Studies. In the spirit of reconciliation, has been made available free of charge to every Canadian.
Our real history is out there; a history in which every voice is heard, no matter how hard the truth is to hear.
– Megan Walchuk