Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Part One

When the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team looks at root causes of crime, often we find that fear is at the root it. We hear from people on a daily basis that they are afraid that they will be victims of crime, fearful of their neighbours, and afraid to speak up. This fear often results in folks thinking that somebody else is responsible for producing a safer community. This fear grows through feelings of mistrust, apathy and blame. Sadly, often blame is placed on the backs of our indigenous community members. Indigenous people are already overly represented in the criminal justice system and more frequently (and unjustly) impacted by victimization, poverty and oppression. We can trace these issues back through Canada’s history of colonization. Canada’s Indian Act (first written in 1867 and amended several times after that) promised indigenous communities sovereignty and rights, yet it paved the way for policies of cultural assimilation that have been confirmed in the stories of residential school survivors.

I had the great privilege of hearing some of these stories at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Edmonton on March 27-30th. I heard about the sexual abuse, violence and of the longing that many survivors had for their own culture, language and beliefs (all of which were denied by the church run residential schools). As I listened to these stories, I started to see clear connections between our shared history and our current community issues. This shared history and the intergenerational trauma has lead to the struggles that indigenous community members face today. These ghosts of our shared past have created communities filled with distrust and fear which continues to impact the overall health, wellness and safety of our communities.

In my next post, I’ll share how my time at the TRC Alberta National Event changed how I thought about my own history and my role in the process of reconciliation.


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About the Author
Alec Stratford
Alec Stratford is a social worker with the City of Edmonton and a member of a specialized Neighbourhood Empowerment Team working in the 118th Ave area. Alec and his partners Constable Kurtis Hauptman and Cassie Smith work with the community to identify and implement ways to reduce and prevent crime and the fear of crime.
1 Comment
  1. charlene papin
    6 years ago

    The TRC held in Edmonton, was awesome, the stories, the atmosphere, all phenomenal. My thoughts are a bit misconstrued, I saw the amazing growth of healing becoming so real, its almost as if this TRC was the beginning of healing, yet was announced this was the last of its kind. Seems to me the intergenerational traumas spoken of are just now surfacing. It would be natural to fulfill the healing journeys with more conferences of its nature. thank you


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