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Ontario: Fighting indifference towards Indigenous Justice

Post-election, five Canadians pinpoint the most pressing issues in their province for Prime Minister Trudeau’s re-elected minority government to tackle.

There is a truism credited to a number of wise folks (Elie Wiesel among them), that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
Late last Spring, as political machinations pointed to an election, the stark truths of recovered unmarked graves at Residential School sites were high in the public mind. Given what Elders and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have said, these revelations are not surprising. Leaders made earnest speeches, did solemn photo-ops and took a number of significant and symbolic actions. I had some hope that these public expressions of the urgency of reconciliation would stimulate meaningful policy dialogue in the course of the election campaign.

But, to paraphrase a British Prime Minister, “events dear ones, events” intervened on our TV screens and news feeds. Images of desperate Afghans fleeing a surging Taliban offensive; video of angry anti-vax anti-lockdown disruptors at hospitals and campaign events; the tired use of wedge political advertising on hot-button issues . . . with all of this dominating our media, reconciliation was out of the election spotlight. Are Settler Canadians indifferent to reconciliation and the pursuit of justice with Indigenous peoples?

In the coming Parliament, it is urgent that our leaders move from noble intent and earnest symbolism to the tangible work of reconciliation – faithfulness to treaty and constitutional promises to live well together. A good start would be the co-development with Indigenous communities for implementation and accountability of the Calls to Action of the TRC and the Calls to Justice of the MMIWG inquiry. I’ll be praying and working alongside Indigenous and Settler colleagues for these actions of love and justice.


Read other letters to the Prime Minister here: Québec, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta.

  • Mike is Director of the Christian Reformed Church’s Centre for Public Dialogue and a PhD student with NAIITS, an Indigenous Learning Community. He lives in Ottawa, Ont.

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