According to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, “faithful reporting” contained in the Feb. 24 interim report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls for “continued cooperation” among churches involved in the tragic legacy of the residential schools.
For National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, the report indicates that the commission is only “the beginning of the process” and that when dealing with First Nations peoples, the government needs to move from a social welfare model to a nation-to-nation model. “We’re in that same kind of process [in the church],” he told the Anglican Journal. “The government needs to work towards that; the church needs to work towards that.”
Created as part of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the TRC’s mandate is to document the 130-year history of residential schools in Canada and to educate Canadians about them. “Because residential schools operated for more than a century, their impact has been transmitted from grandparents to parents to children,” says the report. “This legacy from one generation to the next has contributed to social problems, poor health and low educational success rates in aboriginal communities today.”Bishop MacDonald urges Canadians to get familiar with the report, which is available on the TRC website at www.trc.ca.
Archbishop Hiltz says he supports the report’s 20 recommendations, which address such issues as education, health and recovery of culture and tradition. But he says the recommendation for government and churches to establish an ongoing cultural revival fund must be discussed fully.”Loss of language and culture has always been a conversation, and our church, through the Healing Fund, has supported initiatives around [it],” he says. “I think there would have to be much more detail around how much [money] we are talking, [about and] how is it collected and distributed.”
Although the Anglican church apologized to residential school survivors in 1993, the report does not acknowledge this, noted Archbishop Hiltz, who says he was surprised by this. Neither does it mention “the considerable initiatives churches have taken to demonstrate their sincerity in making these apologies,” he adds.”The TRC interim report is not a concluding document,” Nancy Pine, TRC senior communications and outreach adviser, told the Journal. The TRC will release a more “…detailed report upon completion of the full mandate,” in 2014, she explained.