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Truth & Healing

Understanding the Truth and Reconciliation Initiative

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was started in Canada as an effort to help the healing of Natives who were directly or indirectly affected by the boarding school systems.  As a result of this work Justin Trudeau is implemented what is called the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which "establishes a universal framework of the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world".  As a result of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there is a settlement agreement that was instituted as well which desires faith groups to participate in reconciliation with the indigenous populations.  There is also a Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action which speaks to the many different parties and their ability to help this reconciliation go forward.  

Understanding the Truth and Healing Initiative

The Truth and Healing Act is the initiative that is being taken in the United States to help with the healing of boarding schools in the Native populations.  It was started by Debra Haaland who is the United States Secretary of the Interior on September 29, 2020. On June 22, 2021 Secretary Haaland Announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative which is intended on shedding light on what happened at the Federal Boarding Schools where Native Americans attended.  On December 7, 2021 the National Native American Board School Healing Coalition (NABS) announced the signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the department of Interior to mutually share research to support the Department of the Interior's Federal Indian Boarding School.  

During the Boarding School Era there has been much trauma created for the Indigenous people.  This understanding was amplified when there was a mass grave of 215 children found in the burial ground of a British Columbia school during the time of assimilation which operated from 1890 until the late 1970's.  The Canadian National Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up as an apology for what had happened in the past and to help with the settlement over the schools.  

Remembering the 215

In May of 2021, 215 buried remains of Indigenous children were found in a mass grave on the grounds of Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS).  This moment unlocked the memories of many indigenous peoples and created a tidal wave of news that spread around the world regarding their experiences.  Other indigenous people began to speak out about these histories which resulted in air time from 20/20 and the mass populations learning to begin about these tragic pasts.  It also resulted in massive searches around the United States and Canada to search for more missing children.


These moments then sparked the resolve of Pope Francis to participate in the understandings of what transpired.  Pope Francis first invited the Indigenous populations to Rome and was presented a small pair of children's moccasins.  After time of reflecting of the meaning of those moccasins he visited Canada to return the moccasins to the people there and started what was called his Pilgrimage of Penance where he spent a week visiting, connecting to, learning from and speaking with the Indigenous Populations regarding the church's role in boarding school system.  He used that time to offer his official apologies for what had transpired and to teach the members of the church as well about what it means to be Christian.

Please read more about the 215 in the posts listed below:

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