Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski:
I would like to take this opportunity to follow up with the comment I made to you on June 2 at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s release of its summary report on Indian Residential Schools.
The occasion deeply moved me and I had a hard time not crying throughout the whole event. When Rod Snow, from the United Church, stood up at the end and said it was the whole community’s duty to use our talents and resources to reconcile with First Nations so that we can all move forward together in the spirit of fairness, transparency and social justice, I took this to heart.
I have to admit that the Peel watershed was the first injustice that I felt needed to be addressed, and as soon as I saw you available, I approached you with my request.
You respectfully listened as I asked for the first great step that your government could do as an act of reconciliation is to drop your government’s appeal of the Peel case. By dropping the appeal, your government has the opportunity to honour the treaties such as the Umbrella Final Agreement, save both the First Nations and the Yukon people a lot of money, and show compassion, leadership and foresight. You said you would consider my comment.
Later that day, I experienced a very uncomfortable challenge. My 18-year-old niece from Ontario is visiting with us right now, and she asked me to explain to her what had happened to these children as she had never heard of this before. It was gut wrenching, and as I saw the look of horror in her eyes, I felt the full force of the agony of truth and reconciliation. There is no going back.
The Canadian government used the education system to try to destroy the First Nations and now the First Nations want to use the education system to build us all up, to create understanding, to learn how to live at peace with each other and learn to be responsible stewards of this earth.
The education that needs to happen is going to need resources.
It is time that our government stopped impoverishing First Nations with lawsuits. It is time that First Nations were treated as equal partners in developing our natural resources. It is time our modern treaties were given the respect they deserve.