Truth and Reconcilation

Reconciliation Requires Re-evaluating Prairie History: SHFS Press Release, March 7, 2018


“Too many Canadians still do not know the history of Aboriginal peoples’ contributions to Canada, or understand that by virtue of the historical and modern Treaties negotiated by our government, we are all Treaty people. History plays an important role in reconciliation; to build for the future, Canadians must look to, and learn from, the past.”(TRC Summary Report pp. 8)

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Summary Report recommends several actions that relate to the work of public history institutions, including “education for reconciliation” (TRC Summary Report pp. 246). The SHFS recognizes that it has role to play in the way that history is taught, maintained and perpetuated throughout Saskatchewan.

“Although textbooks have become more inclusive of Aboriginal perspectives over the past three decades, the role of Aboriginal people in Canadian history during much of the twentieth century remains invisible. Students learn something about Aboriginal peoples prior to contact, and during the exploration, fur-trade, and settlement periods. They learn about Métis resistance in the 1880s, and the signing of Treaties. Then, Aboriginal peoples virtually disappear until the 1960s and 1970s, when they resurface as political and social justice activists. The defining period in between remains largely unmentioned. So much of the story of Aboriginal peoples, as seen through their own eyes, is still missing from Canadian history.” (TRC Summary Report pp. 235)

In line with the SHFS Vision, which states that “Sharing stories and histories promotes intercultural understanding, respect, and a sense of belonging in communities,” the SHFS is committed to including diverse narratives and stories within its organization and creating safe, inclusive spaces for sharing diverse perspectives on Saskatchewan’s history.

“In the Commission’s view, there is an urgent need in Canada to develop historically literate citizens who understand why and how the past is relevant to their own lives and the future of the country. Museums have an ethical responsibility to foster national reconciliation, and not simply tell one party’s version of the past. This can be accomplished by representing the history of residential schools and of Aboriginal peoples in ways that invite multiple, sometimes conflicting, perspectives, yet ultimately facilitate empathy, mutual respect, and a desire for reconciliation that is rooted in justice.” (TRC Summary Report pp. 251)

As an organization concerned with history, the SHFS supports community conversations that look at the past from diverse perspectives, and explore what that past means for reconciliation in the present. One of the ways the SHFS is currently working in this area is a commitment to long-term practices of relationship building with Indigenous organizations and communities, with an aim to establish collaborative partnerships in support of these community conversations. Our Indigenous Photos project is an example of work in this area.

To learn about other ways in which the SHFS is responding to the Calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, please call our Executive Director Kristin Enns-Kavanagh at 306-361-2296 or 1-800-919-9437.