Indigenous People in Canada WHAT’S IN A NAME? INUIT
WHAT NOT TO SAY
Inuit people live in northern Canada, as well as in parts of Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka (Russia). Traditional Inuit land in Canada consists mostly of Nunavut but also includes the Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec, and Northern Labrador. Inuit homeland within Arctic Canada is known as Inuit Nunangat, which refers to the land, water and ice.
For the purposes of this report we use the term ‘Indigenous’ to be an inclusive term that encompasses all who identify as First Nation, Métis, or Inuit, while recognizing their unique cultural identities.
Using the historic term ‘Eskimo’, which literally means ‘eater of raw meat’, is no longer considered appropriate.
TOWARD A BETTER FUTURE: TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION OF CANADA Truth commissions have been used around the world to discover and reveal past wrong-doings of governments and to provide proof of historical revisionism and human rights abuses, in the hopes of resolving conflicts of the past. Truth commissions often use restorative justice models in efforts to reconcile societies. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada was established June 1, 2008 and wrapped up in December 2015. Canada’s TRC was unique from others around the world in that its scope was primarily focused on the experiences of children, spanning more than 100 years. The TRC was led by Manitoba Justice and now Senator Murray Sinclair to gather information and hear testimony from survivors and create an accurate and public historical record of the past regarding the policies and operations of residential schools. The TRC resulted in 94 Calls to Action, urging all levels of government, as well as institutions such as educational and community organizations, social service agencies and museums and archives, to work together to change policies and programs in an effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and to move forward with reconciliation. On June 11, 2008, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of Canada, issued an apology in the House of Commons to former students, their families and communities. The apology was considered by many as a first step toward reconciliation. The government’s apology and the establishment of the TRC came in the wake of lawsuits (one being the largest class action in Canadian history) brought by residential school survivors against the Government of Canada. It should also be noted residential school survivors helped fund Canada’s TRC, using a portion of the monetary settlement they received from the government as ordered by the court. Métis, non-status First Nations and Innu people of northern Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Indigenous People who attended day school or lived in orphanages, all were not included in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the Government of Canada’s apology or the mandate of the TRC. To learn more about Canada’s TRC, visit the website for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at nctr.ca
FIND OUT MORE AT winnipegvitalsigns.org