The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final report is the carefully documented response of Canada’s First Nations to the 1969 White Paper of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

In it, Trudeau proposed a “Just Society” for First Nations inside Canada. The White Paper excluded Treaty Rights, the truth of residential schools and unceded territories and natural resources. It attempted to remove the Indian Act without the consultation of First Nations in Canada.

The head of the TRC, Senator Murray Sinclair of First Nations descent, who retired this year, urges Canada to adopt the number one priority of the TRC report, the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Human Rights.

The UN Declaration is the only international framework for Indigenous human rights. Canada has refused to adopt it. The TRC’s 94 recommendations and calls to action have no basis in Canadian law. With the UN Declaration, there is no framework to house the recommendations. The piecemeal demonstrations of good intentions and apologies by Canadian governments, that include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, continue to avoid Treat Rights and unceded lands and natural resources.

The truth of residential schools has brought Canada into consideration by the UN Council for Crimes Against Humanity. The call to action has been stated in the TRC final report published six years ago. It asks Canada to adopt the UN Declaration of Indigenous Human Rights. It respects Canadian laws and institutions, and reconciles Indigenous human rights peacefully within the Canadian justice system.

It is the wisdom of Canada’s First Nation Elders, printed in French and English from a Canadian commission that was head by a First Nation Senator. It is the definition of respect for Canada, its laws, institutions, territory, sovereignty, and every one of its citizens. It shines a beacon for future generations and their descendants within Canada and throughout the world. It provides the example of equitable human rights legislation into the future for the entire world. That is the wisdom of Canada’s First Nation Elders.

Emily Ramey

Melrose