Importance of Reconciliation for Indigenous Child Welfare

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 906
Reading time:
4 min

A society as diverse as Canada’s has experienced a long history of inequality and brutality towards the minority. The Aboriginals and all Indigenous communities face discrimination regarding access to health, education, and the right to worship. The Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their homes and compelled to attend residential schools, where they were tortured (Sandri, E., 2021). Therefore, researchers understand the need to find ways to reconcile and co-exist after such a brutal past. This essay discusses ways in which reconciliation will be necessary for Indigenous child welfare. Reconciliation explores measures that the government can take to address the existing inequalities and their benefits to the children.

After the conflicts, people have to transition by incorporating peace-building activities such as promoting social investment, compensation and finding a middle ground to overcome ethnic divisions. This process is known as reconciliation, which aims to promote truth and justice. However, Rettberg and Ugarriza (2016) argue that reconciliation is a contested concept because it possesses different meanings depending on who answers the question. For instance, there are multiple definitions of this term in Canada between the affected society (Aboriginals), non-Aboriginals, and the policymakers. As a result of this variation, Canada has had numerous public commissions and inquiries to address the problem Indigenous people face, but they fail to materialize. Reconciliation in the Aboriginal context means telling the truth, acknowledging past mistakes, restoring dignity for these communities, and encouraging people to work together for a better future for Indigenous children and families (Eguchi et al., 2016). Those steps can then lead to a healing process, justice, and reconciliation between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, and Canada in general.

As reconciliation means multiple things for different people, the individuals tasked with the reconciliation process are often conflicted about fulfilling the expectations of conflicting society. From a religious perspective, the term indicates repentance, forgiveness, and apologies, whereas the word means a change in attitude or emotional change from a psychological point of view (Rettberg & Ugarriza, 2016). As a result of conflicting needs, the minorities are often overshadowed by the majority, which is always the case in Canada’s conciliation process. In 1991, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) indicated that the colonial and Canadian governments did not assimilate Aboriginal culture (McGregor, 2018). However, the government and society never resolved the recommendations proposed by the RCAP committee. Some of the records about the residential schools were destroyed, indicating that many Canadians know nothing or little about health problems, malnutrition, torture, and cultural genocide subjected to Indigenous children (McGregor, 2018). However, people tasked with the restoration process have not proposed structural problems and inequality that still exist today.

Malnutrition is one challenge that disproportionately affects Indigenous children of Canada. Industrialization and the historical aggression toward Indigenous communities forced them out of their lands (Gillies et al., 2020). Dispossession of land and relocation made the majority of the Aboriginals lose access to skills of gathering nutritious foods as they depended on donations or highly processed and poor nutrient meals from the market. Low dietary intake contributes to a high risk of cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, and obesity (Gillies et al., 2020). The reconciliation process will resolve this problem by allowing the Aboriginals access to their farms to plant healthy plants and fruits for their children.

A closely related problem to malnutrition is access to public health facilities. Lack of health policy that caters to Aboriginal needs means that they experience a high burden of chronic illnesses, infectious diseases, and reduced life expectancy (Richmond & Cook, 2016). The reconciliation process should consider eliminating health inequality resulting in cascading issues such as suicide and high mortality rate among Indigenous people. For instance, the suicide rate among First Nations aged 15-24 was 126 per 100,000 compared to 24 per 100,000 for non-Aboriginals (Richmond & Cook, 2016). This disparity signifies a failure to diagnose and help Indigenous children overcome psychological pressure and traumas. Conciliation measures must address health policy to ensure the construction of proper structures and hospitals to care for Indigenous children. Healthcare facilities within Indigenous communities can also eliminate challenges such as racism and sexism that discriminate against Aboriginals.

Access to education and learning also varies between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children of Canada. Failure for post-secondary education affects the ability of the Indigenous people to secure employment because they lack the necessary skills and knowledge. It results in high dependency ratios, hopelessness, and self-advancement that could lead to the growth of First Nations. For instance, Jeudy (2021) observed unemployment rate for Aboriginals was 22.1% for those with a high school education or lower. Reconciliatory measures should ensure improved legislation policies, support, and necessary resources for education among Indigenous peoples. Educators should also teach about the historical discrimination of Indigenous people across Canada to help raise awareness and prevent the occurrence of such heinous acts in the future (Campbell, 2020). These measures can help address gaps and learning inequalities by ensuring that Indigenous children train relevant skills that meet their needs.

The reconciliation process is essential in facilitating a conducive environment for Indigenous children to grow. The long history of oppression and cultural genocide left Aboriginals with psychological traumas, with the responsible individuals failing to acknowledge their roles, exacerbating their problems. Therefore, the reconciliation process should begin by accepting the truth, admitting mistakes, and restoring dignity for Indigenous people. The other measures should include eliminating discriminatory structural measures that prevent Aboriginals from accessing health facilities, water, nutritious foods, and employment.


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