The Premise of Promises: Keeping Them.

Say it with me, “Promises are made to be…?”

Kept. Kept, Mr. Trudeau. In all of Canada, including Quebec.

During the Liberal Government’s campaign for Office, Trudeau’s team made a hefty promise: to implement all 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation’s recommended remedies for reconciliation.

According to a reading we were assigned, just days after the TRC was released, the Trudeau government got to work on a very important recommendation outlined in the document: an inquiry into the cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal girls; one which the Harper government, “flatly rejected.”

And while no one can deny that Trudeau’s government has promised and delivered on more than we have seen in a long time, there is still much to be done.

For example, this article details the main themes included in the new Quebec history course curriculum (which is currently being piloted at a few schools in Quebec). It talks about how the developers of the curriculum (Parti Québécois) wanted to emphasize the province’s struggle for nationhood between the French and the English. What they neglected to mention, however, is every other culture’s history in Quebec.

There is no mention of the the Irish, Italian, Greek and Caribbean contributions to Quebec, little mention of the Jewish community’s contributions, and only one line on residential schools in Canada, saying that they, “helped accelerate the decline of indigenous languages.”

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Again, the difference between Trudeau’s government and the things we’ve seen before is astonishing. And while Trudeau is certainly a lot friendlier than previous governments (and less photo-awkward), promises, photo shoots, and apologies aren’t enough. As the TRC states,

“In every region of the country, survivors and others have sent a strong message, as received by this commission: for reconciliation to thrive in the coming years, Canada must move from apology to action.”

And part of the action that the TRC recommended, and that the Trudeau Liberals promised to fulfill is to, “Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students,” which is something that is obviously lacking in Quebec.

I chose to include this article in my Newscrawl collection because I want to highlight something that political watchdogs get their bread and butter from: the gap between what politicians desperate to get into the big leagues will promise, and what they will do once they make it there.

In relation to our EDS220 course: in order for equity and diversity to be implemented and maintained, policies urging their importance must be carried out, not just promised.

But how can that happen when something as simple as acknowledging Canada’s history of wronging the Aboriginal people in our history curriculum drives controversy? Why is it acceptable to re-write an entire history curriculum based on the “difficult fight” for nationhood, and the right to land, liberty, and cultural freedom when it’s about the French and the English, but as soon as we bring Aboriginals into the picture, we can’t include a few pages, or a chapter about their struggle to survive our history of colonial filth?

It is long past time for us to own up to our dirty history, and to do the very best we can to reconcile with those whom we have broken beyond repair.

“To the Commission, reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgment of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”

 

 

 

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