The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada exposed many painful truths before it turned its attention to the nature of reconciliation. Its conclusions reflect some of the same thoughts and values that are being addressed through reaffirming the treaty relationship between the Peskotomuhkati Nation and the Crown:
Reconciliation … is about coming to terms with events of the past in a manner that overcomes conflict and establishes a respectful and healthy relationship among people going forward …
To the Commission, “reconciliation” is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. For that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.
We are not there yet. The relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is not a mutually respectful one. But we believe we can get there, and we believe we can maintain it…
…reconciliation requires talking, but our conversations must be broader than Canada’s conventional approaches. Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, from an Aboriginal perspective, also requires reconciliation with the natural world. If human beings resolve problems between themselves but continue to destroy the natural world, then reconciliation remains incomplete. 1
Just as we do not expect to achieve peace, though we will continue to work toward it, we do not expect reconciliation to ever be complete. As Amber Meadow Adams has pointed out, Indigenous languages are more about verbs than nouns, and the proper term for us to be using is really not “reconciliation,” but rather “reconciling.”
- The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume 6 (Reconciliation), pp. 3 and 13.