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Truth and Reconciliation Commission leaves most calls to action unmet, despite federal government’s commitment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by promising that his government would implement all of the commission’s calls to action but, nearly three years later, the progress has been slow.

Few of the 76 calls to action that fall under federal jurisdiction have been fully met, and many have not advanced beyond the initial stages.

That is a problem for Indigenous people who looked to the report as a road map for healing the relationship with the rest of Canada.

Murray Sinclair, the senator who was head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), is frustrated that the lengthy investigation into abuses at the church-run Indian residential schools has not yet created the kind of change he and his fellow commissioners prescribed.

“It is time to stop studying this and start doing things,” Mr. Sinclair said in a recent telephone interview. “If we have a population of young Indigenous people who are continually feeling frustrated by society, that does not bode well for Canadian society generally.”

When the final report of the TRC was released in late 2015, Mr. Trudeau quickly went to a meeting of chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and said: “We will, with Indigenous communities, the provinces, territories, and other vital partners, fully implement the calls to action.”

But the annual plan of the federal department of Crown-Indigenous Relations, which was released in the spring, suggests there is much left to be done as the Liberal government enters the final year of its mandate.

Of the 94 calls to action, the departmental plan said 76 fall under federal jurisdiction. Just three of those had been concluded by January, 2018, said the department. Another three were in the final stages of delivery, 19 were “fully under way” and 51 were in the early stages of planning and implementation.

“Part of my criticism, over the past two years, has been that they don’t have a plan,” said Mr. Sinclair. Various ministers have been handed mandate letters telling them they must meet specific calls to action, he said. But “no one has sat down and done an assessment of what this is ultimately going to cost, and how we’re going to ensure that the cost analyses and cost evaluations are done to show that we are getting a return for this.”

Read more: Truth and Reconciliation Commission leaves most calls to action unmet, despite federal government’s commitment

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