Fast Facts: Timeline of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Updated: Oct 1
Today is the very first time that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is being marked as a time for reflection and learning. People may have important questions about this day such as, “how did we get here?”, or “What is the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission?”. And most importantly, “what can I do with this information”?
So, this week on the blog, we are going to give you a brief timeline of the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help everyone have a better understanding of how we got to this important day.
But first, what exactly was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? It was an independent, far-reaching organization that was formed as a joint partnership through a legal settlement between the Survivors of Residential Schools, The Assembly of First Nations, Inuit and Metis representatives, the Government of Canada as well as various church bodies who were primarily responsible for running the schools. The Commission's main responsibility was to unearth the legacy and hidden histories of the residential schools, and to strive towards truth and reconciliation after bringing these truths to light.
June 1st, 2008
The Commission was officially created on this date, with the aim of investigating the impacts of residential schools on Indigenous children, families, and communities at large.
The first commissioners were the Honorable Justice Harry S. Laforme as the Chair, with Claudette Dumont-Smith, and Jane Brewin-Morley as assistant commissioners.
June 11th, 2008
Stephen Harper, the 22nd prime minister of Canada, apologizes to Indigenous peoples for their suffering which occurred in Canadian residential schools.
October 28, 2008
The Chair of the Commission, Harry Laforme resigns, as he felt that his fellow commissioners were not focused on the goals which he wanted to emphasise during his time as chair of the Commission.
Claudette Dumont-Smith and Jane Brewin-Morley resign as commissioners.
June 10th, 2009
Chief Justice Murray Sinclair is appointed as the chair for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His fellow co-commissioners are Wilton Littlechild, Alberta regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations, and Marie Wilson, a chief executive with the Worker's Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
An interim report is released, entitled They Came for the Children, detailing a short history of residential schools with their initial findings and recommendations for the Government of Canada.
A national research centre was needed to house all the documentation that was being provided to the institution. After much consideration, the University of Manitoba was selected to host the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, as a repository for all the records generated by the commission, slated to open to the public in 2015.
2010 - 2014
Members of the Commission travelled across Canada, eventually collecting testimonies from over 7,000 survivors of these schools. A number of events were hosted in major cities, including Winnipeg, Inuvik, Saskatoon, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton, encouraging survivors to relate their experiences to them through ceremonies and Sharing Circles.
The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, titled Honoring the Past, Reconciling for the Future is published. A summary report document is also created, as well as the 94 Calls to Action.
September 30th, 2021
The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is commemorated across the country.
We hope that you take some time to learn and reflect with us on this monumental day.
Figure 1: Official Logo for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, created by the government of Canada. The three symbols are representative of different Indigenous cultures in Canada: the eagle represents First Nations peoples, the narwhal stands for the Inuit, and the beaded flower represents the Metis Nation.