Commemoration

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 79 to 83.

Based on data provided August 2021.

79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:

  1. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.
  2. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada's national heritage and history.
  3. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada's history.

What's happening?

Parks Canada is working to reduce barriers and undertake outreach to encourage Indigenous candidates to apply for vacancies on its board.

Parks Canada has been working with Indigenous partners to review and renew its key cultural heritage policies, including those associated with the national program of historical commemoration, to ensure that they are respectful of First Nations, Inuit and Métis perspectives, protocols, values and practices.

In 2018, Parks Canada welcomed Indigenous cultural heritage practitioners, experts, Elders and academics to engage in discussions about the commemoration and protection of cultural heritage. As recommended during these gatherings, Parks Canada established the Indigenous Cultural Heritage Advisory Council in December 2019. The council has been providing the agency with valuable advice for implementing Call to Action 79 and advancing reconciliation.

In 2019, the Minister for Parks Canada approved the Framework for History and Commemoration: National Historic Sites System Plan 2019. This plan provides policy direction for the review of existing designations of national historic significance, to address absences of Indigenous histories and take into account Indigenous perspectives and established Indigenous histories as a priority for the national program of historical commemoration.

Under the Stories of Canada initiative, Parks Canada is supporting 25 multi-component capacity building projects including oral history, traditional skills workshops and travelling exhibits. These projects involve over 40 heritage places including national parks and national historic sites across 6 regions with more than 60 Indigenous organizations.

Recent budget investments

Budget 2018 allocated $23.9 million to Call to Action 79 ($15.2 million of new funding in addition to $8.7 million of existing resources) over 5 years from 2018 to 2023 to advance initiatives that include:

  • policy and legislative updates
  • increased visibility and support for Indigenous histories in Canada
  • commemorations related to the history and legacy of residential schools

Recent progress

The process to fill the recent vacancy for the Northwest Territories on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada resulted in the appointment of an Indigenous person.

In 2020, as part of a contribution agreement with Parks Canada, the Indigenous Heritage Circle held 3 regional engagement sessions with Elders, Indigenous heritage professionals and Indigenous partners to review the cultural heritage policies at Parks Canada.

The Indigenous Heritage Circle's report entitled, 2020 Indigenous Heritage Engagement Sessions: Report from the Indigenous Heritage Circle to Parks Canada, provides recommendations for renewing cultural heritage policies and relationships with Indigenous peoples.

A review of the criteria and guidelines for evaluating subjects of potential national historic significance, which sets out policies and practices of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, has been initiated and is expected to be completed in 2021 to 2022.

In 2020, the Government of Canada designated the Residential School system as a national historic event. A virtual announcement was hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Two former Indian Residential Schools, Shubenacadie and Portage la Prairie, were also designated as national historic sites. These designations were the result of public nominations to the national program of historical commemoration.

Parks Canada established an arrangement with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to engage survivors on commemorating the event designation of the Residential School system and support the planning of regional commemorative gatherings.

Next steps

In 2021, Parks Canada launched a dialogue with almost 50 Indigenous governments and organizations who have a vested interest in cultural heritage to seek further input and support a review of cultural heritage policies that is respectful of the cultural diversity of Indigenous peoples. Parks Canada is undertaking a multidisciplinary analysis of recommendations received to date to support the renewal of key cultural heritage policies and directives by April 2023.

Based on the results of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation's outreach with survivors, funds will be available in 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 for regional commemorative gatherings and plaques associated with the national historic event designation of the Residential School system.

New nominations pertaining to the legacies and histories of Residential Schools in Canada, as well as Indigenous histories in Canada, continue to be received by the Secretariat of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. These nominations will be considered for potential national historic designations, with an average processing time of 2 years.

80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

What's happening?

On September 29, 2020, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-5, an Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code, to designate September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and make it a federal statutory holiday.

Bill C-5, the legislation to establish the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, received Royal Assent on June 3, 2021. The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as an official federal statutory holiday, will be marked on September 30, 2021.

81. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools National Monument in the city of Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

What's happening?

An initial survivor engagement workshop was held in Ottawa on October 22, 2019, designed and led by Dr. Marie Wilson, a former commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Recent progress

Planning is in the early stages for this call to action.

82. We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

What's happening?

The provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the response to Call to Action 82.

83. We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process

What's happening?

The Canada Council for the Arts launched the {Re}conciliation Initiative in 2015, in association with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. The initiative invited First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists, collectives and arts organizations (including collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists or organizations) to submit applications for projects that investigate and share knowledge on how the arts can contribute to the ongoing process of conciliation and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The program ran for 2 years until the end of fiscal year 2016 to 2017 and delivered $1.8 million in support towards 26 projects.

In 2016, the Canada Council for the Arts launched its 2016 to 2021 Strategic Plan with a commitment to renew the relationship between Indigenous artists, Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences for a shared future.

In April 2017, the council launched the program Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, for which projects previously funded through the {Re}conciliation Initiative are eligible. The program supports Indigenous individuals, groups, Indigenous-led arts organizations and arts and cultural sector development organizations that foster a vital and resilient Indigenous arts ecosystem.

Designed and administered by Indigenous staff, the program acknowledges the cultural sovereignty of Indigenous peoples and respects the concepts of First Nations, Inuit and Métis self-determination.

In 2020, the Canada Council for the Arts provided funding to 391 Indigenous artists, arts groups and organizations, totaling $14.8 million. Of this funding, from January 1 to December 31, 2020, 291 Indigenous artists, arts groups and organizations received funding directly through Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, totaling $9.3 million.

In fall 2016, the council committed to tripling its investment to support the knowledge, creation and sharing of First Nations, Inuit and Métis arts and cultures to $18.9 million by 2020 to 2021.

The council supports work to renew the relationship between Indigenous artists and both Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences. This work is furthering truth and reconciliation and decolonization, and is fostering a shared future free of discrimination.

In 2019 to 2020, the council provided $19.3 million in funding to over 450 Indigenous artists, groups and arts organizations from coast to coast to coast. The council exceeded its goal to triple support for Indigenous creation and is on track to surpass its 2019 to 2020 level of funding in fiscal year 2020 to 2021.

Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples is an ongoing granting program. The Canada Council for the Arts' Strategic Plan 2021 to 2026, Art, now more than ever, articulates its approach to Indigenous self-determination and decolonization.

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