No room for aboriginal politicking
Posted 2 hours ago
Regarding the resignation of Judge Harry LaForme as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
Is there no end to the shame the survivors of Indian residential schools must endure? On the basis of events unfolding this week at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it would appear not.
Judge Harry LaForme’s decision to step down as chairman in the face of interference from the Assembly of First Nations was the right thing to do. In so doing, Judge LaForme demonstrates the degree of integrity of which residential schools survivors are so deserving.
This commission was intended to be the cornerstone of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its aim was to play a vital role in the ongoing healing process by providing former students the chance to share their experiences. It was also mandated to educate all Canadians about the Indian residential schools system and the impacts this system has had on aboriginal people and their communities. It was to serve as an opportunity to focus on former students who are moving forward and making a positive difference in their lives, and in the lives of people around them.
Justice LaForme was unanimously chosen as chair from a pool of more than 300 applicants. The selection panel included representatives of national aboriginal organizations and other parties to the Settlement Agreement.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should serve as way forward to get beyond the impacts past political decisions have had on First Nations peoples, families and communities. How sad it is that current machinations in aboriginal politics appear to have derailed a body with so noble an intended purpose.
It is time the other two commissioners and the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations come forward in a spirit of honesty and contrition and explain their actions to the survivors of Indian residential schools. Our peoples deserve no less.
It is time the aboriginal community agree to embrace a truly impartial and arm’s-length body that will enable the commission’s objectives to be achieved without interference and completely free from the partisan positions of any aboriginal organization or government body.
It is also time we, as an aboriginal community, take full ownership of our failings in this instance. Immediate and sincere steps must be taken to right this very evident wrong. We have let our own people down in permitting the types of interference by aboriginal groups that have resulted in Judge LaForme’s resignation.
We, as a community, had full opportunity to get it right the first time — and we have failed. The commission must be reconstituted immediately under the auspices and oversight of the courts. Only then can we ensure justice is served, not in the interests of aboriginal politicians, but solely and humbly in the interests of the survivors who have been subjected to further and needless pain, suffering and indifference.
National Chief Patrick Brazeau
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
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