FACL BC Statement on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 30, 2022
On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (British Columbia) Society (“FACL BC”) affirms our commitment to reconciliation and our dedication to acting in solidarity with our Indigenous colleagues, clients, and community members.
Each year, September 30th is recognized throughout Canada as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day honours the children who never returned home and the Survivors of Canada’s Residential School systems. It is also a day for the public to commemorate the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools as part of a national commitment to reconciliation. September 30th is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family, and community intergenerational impacts of residential schools and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a typical “holiday”. September is a difficult time of year for Survivors of Residential Schools as a painful reminder of the time of year when thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their homes and forced to attend institutions of forced assimilation, genocide, and abuse. For the rest of us settlers who reside in what is now known as Canada, September 30th is an opportunity to reflect upon our roles in reconciliation and to lean in, listen to, and learn from Indigenous peoples. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation writes:
“Our country is in the midst of a long overdue national conversation about the true history of these lands. For decades, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit have been silenced and ignored to preserve a façade that this country is one relatively untouched by racism.
Reconciliation is not a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it cannot happen without truth.
Canada, this is your opportunity to begin to walk the path of Reconciliation. We ask you to listen with your hearts. We ask you to remember the children who never came home and the Survivors who did, beyond this week and the occasional headline. We ask you to learn what it means to be Treaty people and how together we can ensure that the tragedy of residential schools is remembered—not for a few years, but forever.”
This year, we encourage you to take some time to learn more about Indigenous peoples across Canada and to reflect on what active and engaged reconciliation efforts you can undertake and commit to. As Pan-Asian-Canadians and members of other equity-seeking groups, it can be easy to forget our own privilege and the benefits we gain from living as uninvited guests in what is known as British Columbia and yet we were once subjected to many of the colonialist and discriminatory restrictions that continue to bind Indigenous communities. But as settlers and legal professionals, it is imperative we use our privilege for the betterment of all those who continue to suffer from systemic oppression. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity to reflect on our role in advancing reconciliation.
To start, FACL BC encourages everyone to familiarize themselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (“TRC”) Final Report and 94 Calls to Action. From 2008 to 2014, the TRC heard stories from thousands of Residential School Survivors and others impacted by their tragic history. In 2015, the TRC released its Final Report, which contained 94 Calls to Action. Of these 94 Calls to Action, only 13 have been completed, 62 are at some stage of progress, and 19 have not even been started according to Beyond 94, a tracking project launched by CBC News. Some other Indigenous-led organizations claim even fewer Calls to Action have been answered.
Included in the TRC’s Calls to Action are 20 Calls to Action directly related to the Canadian legal system including:
27 – We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal– Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
- 28 – We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.
- 52 – We call upon the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, and the courts to adopt the following legal principles:
- i. Aboriginal title claims are accepted once the Aboriginal claimant has established occupation over a particular territory at a particular point in time.
- ii. Once Aboriginal title has been established, the burden of proving any limitation on any rights arising from the existence of that title shifts to the party asserting such a limitation.
These particular Calls to Action, along with all the others, should inform the way we continue to practice and progress the law as legal professionals. Systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples continues to be a major issue within the legal profession (including challenges faced by Indigenous practitioners), as demonstrated by this mini-documentary by a group of Indigenous Lawyers in BC: “But I Was Wearing a Suit”.
Further learning and resources you can engage with this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation include:
If you are in Vancouver, consider checking out the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre
at UBC and the following National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events:
(1) Tracey Morrison Memorial Bannock Walk
The Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS), the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), and our OUR STREETS Block Stewardship Program will be holding the Tracey Morrison Memorial Bannock Walk on Friday, September 30.
The event will begin at 1:00pm at the VANDU Office at 380 East Hastings, corner Dunlevy. The event will begin with a traditional drum opening, followed by speakers. The organizers will be frying bannock at VANDU, which we will then distribute across the neighbourhood at the end of the event. Participants are welcome to bring their own drums and bannock to share with the community!
This event is being held on National Truth and Reconciliation Day in honour of Tracey Morrison, a WAHRS warrior and leader who was known in the neighbourhood as the Bannock Lady.
Link to the event's Facebook page here.
(2) Orange Shirt Day at Oppenheimer Park
Join us to Honour the Survivors of Residential Schools, the legacy carried by their families and to commemorate those who didn’t return home. We honour the Children with free BBQ, Bouncy Castles, Crafts, Giveaways & CIB Rap Battles. Please wear your Orange Shirt in Support.
Organized by Wendy Nahanee. Link to the event's Facebook page here.
(3) Orange Shirt Day at Trout Lake
Join Nisga'a Ts'amiks Vancouver Society to honour the lost children and survivors from the Indian Residential Schooling system on Friday, September 30, 2022 for Truth and Reconciliation Day.
We will be featuring a ceremony, drumming and sharing songs and stories with all attendees. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate in event activities.
Organized by the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society. More info here.
(4) Frozen River Opening Night
In nîkwatin sîpiy, Grandmother Moon tells the story of two eleven-year-olds, born under the same blood moon, but in different parts of the world. This new play follows their stories as they meet in a forest, and that of their descendants who meet in the present day in what is known as Manitoba. A broken promise from the past can be righted when there is finally an openness to learn from those who have protected and honoured the waterways for centuries.
Co-written by Métis artist Michaela Washburn, Anishinaabe/Miami artist Joelle Peters and Carrie Costello, Manitoba Theatre for Young People‘s Frozen River (nîkwatin sîpiy) is a timely theatre work for children ages five-and-up.
Presenting complex issues around environmentalism, community interconnection and issues of reconciliation, the show incorporates terms from the maskeko-Ininiwak (Swampy Cree) language.
The play runs from September 28, 2022 to October 16, 2022 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. Tickets can be purchased here.
Contact: Advocacy Committee – firstname.lastname@example.org