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Every Manitoban child will now learn the legacy of the residential school system

Last year, Manitoba's own Justice Murray Sinclair presented the final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).This was a historic step forward in Canada's ongoing collective process of acknowledging the destructive legacy of the residential school system.

In the five years that I've been the MLA for Tyndall Park, I?ve met many Indigenous families in my area, and First Nations and M?tis students in my local schools. It's clear this has been a very important journey for all of us. 

For far too long, many people refused to recognize the long-term effects of residential schools. But I believe that's changing, and I know it's true in our provincial government. I'm very proud to say that our team of NDP MLAs is eager to work with Indigenous communities for a stronger future. Now that we have a willing federal partner at the table, we have an important opportunity to forge a new nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples.

The TRC report has brought the uncomfortable truths about Canada's past into the light. For me, the most significant truth is that residential schools have affected all Canadians, of all cultures, not just our founding peoples.

In the same way that we are all treaty people, it hurts all of us to have traditional cultures nearly wiped out from forced cultural appropriation. It hurts all of us to grow up in a school system that ignores the role our own Canadian government played in "killing the Indian in the child." It hurts all of us watch the cycle of abuse and trauma, sparked from mistreatment in the schools, pass from one generation to the next. And in turn, it strengthens all of us to witness the resilience and courage of residential school survivors as they share their experiences and push for change.

To start implementing the TRC recommendations, the Manitoba government has created the First Nation, M?tis and Inuit Education Policy Framework. It will make sure all Manitoba students learn about the histories, cultures, traditional values and knowledge of indigenous peoples, as well as the legacy of residential schools and the significance of treaties. 

The Framework puts more indigenous content into university courses for Education students, so that teachers can properly support our children as they learn this new curriculum. 

There will be new supports for indigenous students, including more access to adult learning. These initiatives are part of our NDP team's vision for more  good jobs for indigenous peoples, and more supports for indigenous families and communities.

I believe that these actions will bring all of us closer to acknowledging past wrongs, working towards reconciliation and better understanding for the future. Why do the recommendations from TRC matter to all Canadians?

It matters because the residential school system is one of the major causes of nation-wide poverty, homelessness, illness, violence and illiteracy. It matters because it happened in our home; a place we believe has a commitment to the values of democracy and human rights. It matters because nothing is irreversible, forgiveness and respect are possible, and change can be achieved.

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