Covering the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Convention
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) www.umanitoba.ca/nctr/ opened on the campus of the University of Manitoba during the summer of 2015. The NCTR was formed to preserve the memory and legacy of Canada’s Residential School system. The NCTR is the permeant home to all documents, statements and materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) www.trc.ca.
Kaila Johnston is the research coordinator for the NCTR. Saturday at the national convention, Johnston updated delegates and visitors on the important work she does.
Johnston began her presentation by reminding convention goers of the atrocities suffered by many of the school’s residents.
“In an underfunded, under-supervised system, there was little protection for children,” she said. “Overall, residential schools often amounted to a system of institutionalized child neglect.”
In 2006, negotiations were approved between the legal advisors for survivors, the church, The Assembly of First Nations, the Government of Canada, and other organizations to implement the Indian Residential School Agreement.
“It was formed as a fair, comprehensive and lasting resolution to the legacy of Indian residential schools, as well as to promote, healing, education, commemoration and truth reconciliation,” Johnston added.
The establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) in June of 2008, was one of the five major components to the Indian Residential School Agreement. It was founded as a holistic, comprehensive response to the Indian residential schools.
Records, archives and other information are included in the NCTR’s online archive collection which can be found here. nctr.ca/map.php.
To address the legacy of residential schools in advance of reconciliation, the TRC made 94 calls to action. These include calls to education, health, justice, equity, church apologies, museums and archives, media, sports, business and newcomers.
One of the calls to action that speaks to Johnston is number six.
“It states,” Johnston said. “We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code. Section 43 is also known as the spanking law.”
Section 43: A parent or a person standing in place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction towards a pupil or child, as they may be under their care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.
Debate surrounds section 43 because some view it as a justification of violence toward children in the name of correction.
Johnston feels this is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The TRC believes that corporal punishment is a relic of a discredited past and has no place in the Canadian home or school.
“The act needs to be repealed,” Johnston added, “as it violates human rights, risks physical and psychological harm to children, contradicts the Health Canada advice on children, undermines education of the children and contributes to violence.”
Bill S206 was introduced in 2015 and it asked to repeal the code. The bill is currently in the second reading as of July 8.
Johnston urged the audience to learn and understand the legacy of residential schools as well as the history of corporal punishment in Canada and the world. She pointed toward the following websites www.repeal43.org/ and www.endcorporalpunishment.com for more information.
Delegates and visitors received a pocketsize booklet that outline the TRC’s calls to action. Johnston encouraged convention goers to find a call to action that resonated with them.
“A really important piece of advice I received from Dr. Marie Wilson (a commissioner for the TRC) was, you don’t have to do all 94,” Johnston said to a chorus of laughter. “You just have to pick one. Just pick one and engage in those acts of reconciliation.”