The Dene Nation believes publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report marks a new chapter in relations between Indigenous peoples, the Government of Canada and the churches.
Published on Tuesday, the final report runs to almost 4,000 pages documenting the impact of Canadian residential schools. The report draws on testimony from more than 6,000 residential school survivors, heard by the commission over the past six years.
“It’s definitely a start of a new era that respects Indigenous rights and interests as we look forward to building a renewed partnership with the Crown and churches,” said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus, echoing the words of commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair.
“Our mutual respect and willingness to trust and work together ensures that Indigenous peoples will not be eradicated after 130 years of oppression and residential school experience,” added Erasmus.
The Dene Nation called for more research to determine the exact number of Indigenous people who died while in the residential school system.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report suggests around 3,200 deaths are known, but the figure is imprecise and could be much higher.
“It’s a regrettable part of Canadian history,” said Erasmus in a statement reacting to the report’s publication. “[But] we welcome this as 2015 concludes and look forward to a new year of prosperity and good will.”