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Knowledge can be a Gateway to Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2022 - Ron Kruzeniski, Information and Privacy Commissioner

Today is Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Page 12 of Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future:  Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada states, “Without truth, justice, and healing, there can be no genuine reconciliation. Reconciliation is not about “closing a sad chapter of Canada’s past,” but about opening new healing pathways of reconciliation that are forged in truth and justice.”

I reflect on this powerful statement and how it holds meaning with a recent Report I issued. The report involved a Metis individual who was seeking information about their deceased parent from the Ministry of Social Services. I was moved by this individual’s story. They advised that their parent passed away in 2015 and they were looking for answers to questions about their parent’s past and what happened when their parent was a child. They advised they first requested information from Social Services in 2017, then again in 2021. Each of these requests were denied.

Upon requesting that my office review this matter, the individual so eloquently stated, “…upon discovery of mass graves at residential school across Canada and the public conversation this prompted regarding the actions of child welfare agencies more broadly, I felt strengthened to renew my search for answers.” They further stated, “…There is no Truth & Reconciliation without the truth. I submitted my request for information on September 30, 2021, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This was by no means a coincidence. I just finally want to know the truth around this matter because it affected my [Parent], me and our family.  Therefore, I feel it is our truth and story to understand….”

I feel this story is representative of the story of so many Indigenous peoples. Some of their truth can be found in the records that government holds. Government needs to demonstrate its commitment to truth and reconciliation by removing barriers to access this information. This can help pave the path forward.

 

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