In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued 94 Calls to Action, built upon decades of Residential School Survivors’ advocacy. The Calls to Action, taken together with the Commission’s 10 Principles of Reconciliation and the articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, chart a path forward toward a more just country.
In response to the Calls, a small group of like-minded researchers and practitioners met through the partnership and staff support of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to discuss whether and how to measure reconciliation. The seeds for the Canadian Reconciliation Barometer were planted.
Ry Moran, now Associate University Librarian – Reconciliation at the University of Victoria and previously the first Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, asked questions around how a team might monitor developments to understand successes and setbacks along the way. Dean Peachey, a retired Professor of Human Rights at the Global College of the University of Winnipeg, was inspired by the work of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa, where he researched transitional justice processes. Katherine Starzyk, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Manitoba, had recently attended a United Nations Development Programme meeting on reconciliation in Johannesburg, South Africa, and acquired funding to start some related work. Together, the group developed a project plan and secured funding.
The work then began with a larger team that grew from 2016-2018 to include Lorena Sekwan Fontaine, Academic Lead and Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg, and talented emerging scholars Katelin Neufeld, Aleah Fontaine, and Iloradanon Efimoff. Then, in 2020, Mary Agnes Welch of Probe Research joined through a Mitacs partnership and significantly increased our expertise in public opinion polling and knowledge mobilization. Most recently, in 2021, we welcomed to the team master’s student Erin White, undergraduate students Kristin Smith and Jaden Dela Rosa, and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Director of Research Brenda Gunn.