What is reconciliation? Reconciliation requires a good understanding of the past and present, acknowledging harm, and meaningful apologies. It also requires engaging with Indigenous communities and respectful relationships at the individual and nation levels. Key also is equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and thriving Indigenous families, youth, cultures, and languages. Lastly, reconciliation means respect for the natural world around us. This is an evolving description of what we learned about reconciliation.
What did we learn about Residential Schools? Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents were most likely to agree that Residential Schools and governments in Canada have harmed Indigenous Peoples and that those past harmful actions continue to negatively affect Indigenous Peoples. Both groups also agreed they have a truthful understanding of the past and present and, less so, that relationships are mutually respectful. There is more work to do to ensure that relationships are mutually respectful.
Do Indigenous and non-Indigenous people agree we are reconciling? Across indicators of reconciliation, Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents agreed more than they disagreed. For example, when asked about how Indigenous people are treated across sectors, both groups expressed most concern about the criminal justice and child welfare systems. Yet, Indigenous respondents perceived less progress on every indicator. Indigenous respondents disagreed that we are making progress for 7 of 13 indicators: Apologies, Respect for the Natural World, Systemic Equality, Indigenous Thriving, Indigenous Representation & Leadership, Nation-to-Nation Relationships, and Personal Equality.
Where do we need work and where are we doing well? One of the largest gaps between the groups was for Good Understanding of the Past and Present. For this indicator, Indigenous respondents scored much higher. In contrast, one of the smallest gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents was for Representation and Leadership. Unfortunately, the consensus was that Indigenous people are not represented as leaders and decision makers in key sectors. Personal equality is the indicator in which we are making the least progress, including Indigenous Peoples’ financial security, mental health, job and promotion opportunities, education, and physical health.