Promoting Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians

“We must be honest about the real two solitudes in this country, that between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens, and commit to doing tangible things to close the divide in awareness, understanding and relationships.”

Marie Wilson, Commissioner of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission


Inspire Solutions and Dawson’s First Peoples Initiative recently hosted a talk by Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Watch her powerful call for change and join us in beginning a dialogue at Dawson on what we can do as students, educators, and Canadians to promote a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Take a few minutes to leave your thoughts on what we can do to promote greater understanding of this dark part of Canadian history and a new relationship with our First Peoples

Since 2009, Marie Wilson has been one of the three Commissioners chosen to lead the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. She came to the commission with more than 30 years of professional experience as an award-winning journalist, trainer, and senior executive manager. She has also been a university lecturer, a high school teacher in Africa, a senior executive manager in both federal and territorial Crown Corporations, and an independent contractor and consultant in journalism, program evaluation, and project management.

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19 Responses to Promoting Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians

  1. Cristian May 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    It is surprising that Marie Wilson does not demand the government to punish those responsible in this speech.I think this makes reconciliation more likely since she bypasses the authorities in this process and appeals directly to Canadians.

  2. Vinusan May 11, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    I am shocked that prior to listening to Marie Wilson’s speech, I had very little knowledge about the detrimental effects of such residential schools. The accounts of the horrible treatment and the consequences in the form of suicide and addictions is very depressing. I am very disappointed in the education system for not having included this topic in our history lessons, as it is a crucial and inevitable part of our past. I hope measures will be taken to ensure that such information will be presented to the future generations to educate them about this darker component of our relationship with the Indigenous people.

  3. Iulia May 13, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Although i have a lot of knowledge about the residential schools of Canada, since i was fortunate enough to be taught in Dawson College, i still found it disturbing hearing Marie Wilson talk about how Canadians viewed Aboriginal people, as pagans and savages, and sought so hard and for so long to change them, to turn them into Christians and abolish their identity, disregarded their beliefs and habits, because they were different from Canadians.

  4. Samantha Korzer May 14, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Growing up in Canada one would assume non-aboriginal citizens would have more knowledge on this ongoing issue surrounding the unfair and unjust treatment of the aboriginal people/society. Putting so much faith in our government, it is shocking to see how a group of innocent people are treated and looked upon. With endless nonviolent protests taking place, the aboriginal people firmly mark their place in our society however lack access to common rights that are freely granted to us, Canadians.

  5. Niloofar Dadkhah November 15, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    I am immigrant here, and when I listened to the speech of Marie Wilson, I am very shocked! If one teacher in the college or high school say us about this relationship, then we come to understand that we can find the way to improve this, and future generations learn about that darker part of their past life.

  6. Giuliana November 27, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    This video was extremely powerful and allowed me to realize why a great number of Aboriginals live in poverty today. I had little knowledge about the residential schools implanted by the Canadian government for 150 years; I knew they existed by did not understand the extent to which they impacted future generations as well. Most Canadians are unaware that these atrocities took place, as the current situation regarding Natives is rarely spoken about or ignored. A genocide was committed in Canada and created endless cycles of abuse and violence in Aboriginal families, yet the majority of us fail to realize this. It is time that we start learning about our past history in schools; change cannot take place unless our government acknowledges what happened and takes measures to improve the situation. We must promote reconciliation in order to create long lasting peace between these two peoples.

  7. Adam Larbi November 29, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    Even with all my knowledge about the situation of Aboriginal Canadians, what we learned from Dr. Marie Wilson in the video still shocked me a lot. She gives us a real perception of how it was like to be an Aboriginal canadian and what they had to go through. The fact that they have been rejected and seen as different individuals is unbelievable. Nobody should be imposed to forget his beliefs and values, and to practice a religion that isn’t hers. It just makes me furious to learn about things like this. However, I think that it is really important to know these things, because it will prevent us from committing the same mistakes in the future. The govenment should really give back to these people what he owes them.

  8. Niloofar Dadkhah December 7, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    This Video kept me from sleeping at night. More specifically, it is really hard for me to imagine how difficult their was. How could government and the church separate children from their parents, even brothers from sisters, and then abuse them or force them not to speak in the only language that they know?! It is really unbelievable for me that they were considered as Pagans and savages! How could people accept those inhuman facts?! In fact what they have done with these people had a really terrible impact on their lives. The government sent them to those residential schools which brought them to the highest rate of addiction and suicide! I was really touched by the man who spoke about his sad life story. In my opinion, to avoid this horrible situation it is important to inform children from a young age that religion, language, culture or color doesn’t allow them any superiority in society; we are equal ! Every body in Canada should be informed about what has happened to these people. We should understand that we play an important role in reconciliation. It is essential for us to know the history of Canada to prevent these kinds of crimes. This video made me really upset.

  9. Gabriel Haek December 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    The part that shocked me the most was Paul Voudrah’s story, when he explains how he was stripped of all the clothes he owned, was unable to see his siblings, wasn’t able to see his own mother when she visited and, worst of all, got sexually assaulted. This showed me a whole new point of view on what situation the aboriginals were put in. I strongly agree with Marie when she says that this part of Canadian history should be a mandatory class to pass high school. This would indeed assure that every Canadian would be more informed on what happened to aboriginals, and would also be in a better position to reconcile with them.

  10. princedan benild December 8, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    I am reality surprised about this issue even with the little knowledge i already have of this subject. The life of the aboriginals were always looked down on and never where did have the respect they deserved. At some point there should be a law or even some sort of help from the government but i know it is much more complex then that. If is very good that the affected people are coming out with no fear to say there story at conventions like this. It is a eye opener for everyone including the people who know about the situation. Everyone who lived that life all had there own thoughts and experiences but what they have in comment and the thing that hurts the most just like Maria mentioned is being separated from you family. I agree when she says it’s the worst thing you can do to a kid.

  11. Kyra Paquet December 8, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    In high school, I remember the first time my ninth grade teacher said “residential schools”. Everyone in the class looked at each other, wondering what she was talking about. She was shocked to learn that many of us had limited knowledge of residential schools or the history of First Nations in Canada. This is a huge flaw in our educations system; the Canadian government cannot pretend that these atrocities did not happen in our country. As the generation that is most likely to affect change in the future, we need to be informed and aware of the history of our country; good and bad. The more we understand the history and culture of Aboriginal people, the more likely we are to have a reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

  12. Francesca Varrone December 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    I had very little knowledge on this topic. Despite what they taught us in our history classes for the past 3 years, we never got the real side of this situation. We cannot hide the flaws that there is in our system. We need to know the circumstances that First Nations people were put through. We need to reconcile with Aboriginal people living in these communities. Nobody deserves to be treated less then what they are, we are all equal.

  13. Eithne Lynch December 10, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    This whole speech has opened my eyes to this issue. I knew that as a society we needed to make a change however I didn’t realize how far we have left to go. I truly thought we had made more progress. “Kill the indian in the child” and “no more indian problem”, these ideas amaze me. The fact that Aboriginals had their culture and their families taken from them simply to satisfy people’s rigid and warped ideals horrifies me. Mr. Voudrach’s testimonial also speaks volumes as to how crippling this discrimination has been. I only hope that people continue to be educated about these issues and that Canada treats all its citizens with the respect they deserve.

  14. Sophia Silla December 13, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    Prior to listening to Marie Wilson’s speech, I had very little knowledge concerning this issue. I had no idea what a residential school was, what took place in one and who was affected by it. In history, we learn about how the French tried assimilating the Aboriginals when they first arrived in Canada, but they never teach us the consequences the assimilation caused Aboriginals. I believe that it is important to inform people of what went on within Canada for over 150 years, in order to eventually have a reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadiens.

  15. Sarah-Jessica D'Avirro February 21, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

    As a student, I was never exposed to this issue. Listening to Marie Wilson’s speech was eye opening and educating. I stand by equality and human rights and the aboriginals did not have either. Canada is known for being multicultural; the aboriginals were stripped from their identity and could not carry their culture with them. The children’s rights, names, families, language and clothing were all taken away from them in order to erase their culture. The residential schools believed if the children were taken from their families it would be an easier way to eliminate their people. Paul is an example of what the children experienced in the schools. The experience was traumatic as Paul explained; it left physical and emotional scars that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Reconciliation needs to occur and awareness needs to be raised on this issue.

  16. Leah Mechaly May 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    What really appealed to my emotions was hearing the story from the actual victims. It is difficult to understand how they feel, however, it was really effective in getting an idea. What was done to them was unimaginable and extremely unfair. I believe in equality and strongly support human rights, and this video is important as it acknowledges the victims and the pain they feel.

  17. Oona Avery-Jeannin May 12, 2016 at 7:09 pm #

    Until my last year of high school, the discrimination against aboriginals had rarely been discussed.
    Residential schools are the most shocking case to learn about; children were taken away from their homes and forced to live like the white population. What happened within these schools, such as the rape and abuse that Paul had to experience, had been ignored and forgotten for far too long.
    It reminds me of how Canada, like any other country, ignores the terrible acts and laws that they have enforced when teaching students about their past.
    If Canada were to address this issue more and remind people of the mistakes their ancestors made, a stronger bond between the citizens would be established.

  18. Annesha Persaud December 7, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    Throughout my academic career, never once was I informed of the atrocious acts committed against aboriginal citizens. The residential school implemented by our government was a form of ethnic cleansing. The rape and abuse of people like Paul should never be neglected like it was.
    These issues should be addressed worldwide and we should not turn a blind eye like our predecessors did.

  19. Anthony Saab December 7, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

    After listening to Marie Wilson’s public presentation, I was truly surprised to see the extent to which the issue of inequality between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people had greatly escalated. The unfair treatment between Canadians and the indigenous community truly irritates me. However, I am glad that this public speaker shed light on the subject matter in such a powerful and effective manner. By portraying the unfathomable acts brought upon the aboriginal community such as: stripping them of their essence and culture in order to assimilate them to Canadian culture and religion, and sending them to residential schools (resulting in alcoholic and suicidal behaviors) Wilson clearly demonstrates how unfairly they have been treated throughout the years. They should be treated as our equals and should be given all the same opportunities as us. In hopes of improving their current situations, I truly hope they receive the recognition they deserve as indigenous people and as human beings.

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