The launch of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission pursuant to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is a historic event. For the first time, a chapter in our history will be opened up to a public process with the purpose of acknowledging harms done and healing the relationship between peoples within Canada.

The legacy of residential schools has weighed heavily on the lives and well-being of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals and communities for generations. The Settlement Agreement endorsed by Survivors, churches, and the Government of Canada signals a shared commitment to create a more harmonious, mutually respectful future.

Much attention has been given to the compensation payments that form part of the Agreement. Payments now being distributed will relieve some immediate needs, but our Elders remind us that money soon disappears and that we need to look for things of lasting value. The knowledge that the voices of our injured relations have been heard, memorials to the resilience of those who survived and remembrance of those who died, and the ongoing work of community healing will have lasting value.

A paper in this volume proposes that where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in bearing witness to what has gone before, will help to create collective memory and shared hope that will benefit Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada long into the future.

This volume is a collection of papers and brief reflections from many contributors who have worked to create just and inclusive societies in Canada and abroad. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is honoured to present a distillation of their experience and wisdom to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as it sets out on its mission to transform the legacy of Indian residential schools.

Georges Erasmus
Aboriginal Healing Foundation