Indigenous pathways of transitional justice; the role of storytelling in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

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Schlick, Marcie Brunhild
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In 2008, in effort to acknowledge the atrocities committed and heal from the consequences of the Indian residential school system, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada was established, with a mandate to travel nationally collecting the testimonies of survivors and the communities affected by the residential school system, in pursuit of transitional justice in Canada. Collecting the testimonies of Indigenous peoples who traditionally practice oral history as a form of documentation and knowledge sharing through storytelling summons questions on how the collection of survivor stories was organised, and if the approach of the TRC was adequate in adopting Indigenous pathways in the collection and sharing of information. Ultimately, through establishing the historical context of the Indian residential school system, and in asserting the relevance of storytelling values in truth-seeking/sharing initiatives, this research highlights barriers of the TRC such as the lack of education and engagement from the Canadian public, environments of events and testimony collection, and influence of settler narratives, stunting the ability of the Commission in adequately incorporating Indigenous pathways of storytelling in the restorative justice process outlined by the mandate. Consequently, the education and recognition of the atrocities that were the cause of Indian residential schools have not been addressed or recognized beyond the Indigenous population to the extent that they deserve. Specifically the mass scale and intent of the Canadian Government to eliminate the Indigenous population through genocidal practices, has not been properly discussed through the perceived pursuit of reconciliation and dominant settler narratives, creating a need for further consideration of Indigenous pathways of healing and justice. Although the TRC represents a positive action in an attempt to amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples in Canada, addressing its shortcomings is a necessity in highlighting the importance of decolonization in education and learning efforts, in order for Canada and Indigenous nations to move forward with positive nation to nation relations. For this, settler populations need to start listening to Indigenous voices, this research aims to express why.
Second semester University: University of Deusto, Bilbao
Canada, truth commission, reconciliation, transitional justice, indigenous peoples, personal narratives, restorative justice, education