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MSIFN Chief provides her thoughts on reconciliation, community involvement

SCUGOG: The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) are encouraging the community to take time to reflect on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Saturday, September 30th.

According to a Government of Canada website, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “honours the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.”

MSIFN Chief Kelly LaRocca told The Standard why she feels public participation in this awareness day is important.

“Participating in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for people to reflect on Canada’s Indigenous history and Residential Schools. Specifically, we are being called upon to consider what can be done to achieve improvements to health, education, infrastructure, and economic outcomes for Canada’s Indigenous population considering the residential schools’ legacy and the treatment of Indigenous peoples in this country.”

She also discussed how education on these issues is an ongoing process.

“Learning from and about each other is a critical part of reconciliation and cannot be completed in one day. The creation of this day must be symbolic of an ongoing commitment to viewing ‘reconciliation as relationship.’ The historical and constitutional backdrop of the nation-to-nation relationship is one which is unique and of foundational importance.”

In terms of educating the community, last year Chief LaRocca held a free public information event in Port Perry where she spoke about cultural awareness, residential schools and the Williams Treaties from a historical and law perspective.

“MSIFN is proud to have a strong relationship with the surrounding community. Without these relationships, there will be little progress towards reconciliation because as much as public policy and government action are important, life ultimately happens on a community level, internal and external to our First Nation,” the MSIFN Chief stated.

Chief LaRocca feels there is still a lot of work to do to further reconciliation across Canada.

“Unfortunately, we are still miles away from implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Numerous Indigenous communities across the country still lack access to basic services, such as clean drinking water. We have a long way to go.”

But she had a suggestion on one way governments can help push forward on reconciliation with first nations groups.

“Through the Indian Act and other federal legislation, residential schools, and a historic lack of meaningful access to healthcare and education, First Nations and Indigenous peoples have been kept to the periphery of economy. Finding innovative ways to involve Indigenous communities in large-scale projects and procurement is the way of the future if we are to put a dent into the litany of concerns facing Indigenous communities in Canada.”

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