First Nations activists taking part in the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, B.C., in September 2013. Darrel Dyck/The Canadian Press/AP
Gabrielle Scrimshaw is among a number of prominent aboriginal Canadians who argue reconciliation isn’t possible unless the full truth of what happened at residential schools is made public.
“There are thousands and hundreds of thousands of these documents being withheld,” Scrimshaw, head of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, said in an interview.
“It’s really only just part of the story,” she said. “I think that within the community, there will always be this asterisk because of what’s not in the final report … From a broader Canadian standpoint, we need to tell these truths so that we can fully understand our Canadian history.”
In one case, survivors of a residential school in Ontario say they were forced by staff to sit in an electric chair. The government has been accused of hiding evidence.
Beyond the commission, there are ongoing disputes between the Canadian government and indigenous people over issues like land rights and environmental protection as well as calls for a national inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women.
More than 600 aboriginal women have been killed or gone missing over the past several decades, at a rate far higher than the national average, according to data from the Native Women’s Association of Canada
Most of the documented cases occurred from 2000 to 2010, at which point the federal government ceased funding the database.
These issues have Scrimshaw and others arguing that the government hasn’t acted in good faith since the apology.