Honorary TRC witnesses send message that global community watching

TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson: "It must never happen here again." Photo: Marites N. Sison
Published June 30, 2011


For more information on the TRC, go to www.anglican.ca/trc

Inuvik-A grand chief, a veteran CBC broadcaster, a former commissioner for Nunavut and a Holocaust survivor have been commissioned as honorary witnesses for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s national northern event here June 27 to July 1.

Honorary witnesses will not only observe at the five-day TRC event, but are expected to share with others what they have witnessed.

“Having honorary witnesses observe the northern national event signals that the eyes of the global community are watching Canada,” said TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson. “It sends a clear message that not only did something terrible happen to innocent children in this country, but that it must never happen here again.”

Grand chief of the First Nations Summit of British Columbia Ed John, CBC radio host Shelagh Rogers, former Nunavut Commissioner Peter Irniq and immediate past president of the Vancouver Holocaust Center for Remembrance and Education, Robert Waisman were introduced at a ceremony June 28.

The TRC also named three international honorary witnesses from Australia and the United States: Francisco Cali Tzay, John Dommett, and Refik Hodzic. Tzay is vice chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights Division of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Dommett is chief executive officer of Connecting Home, Inc., an Australian organization established in response to recommendations arising from a task force report on Australia’s “Stolen Generations” of aboriginal children. Hodzic is director of the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice, an international non-profit organization that works to help new democracies address legacies of human rights violations.

The aboriginal principle of witnessing and the ceremony that accompanies it differs between First Nations, Inuit and Metis, a TRC statement said. In general, however, to be a witness means to be a keeper of history when events of historic significance occurs, said the TRC. The purpose is also the same as the traditional English notion of witnessing, to speak the truth.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

Related Posts

Skip to content