Truth and Reconciliation
November 1st, 2021
APEGS and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
St. Anthony’s Indian Residential School, male students with nuns, a priest, and school personnel, Onion Lake, CA. 1950
What was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and what did it do?
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada created a historical record of the residential school system.
The TRC was constituted and created by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which settled the class actions brought by the tens of thousands of Indigenous people who were enrolled in the Canadian Indian residential school system.
The TRC was active from 2008 to 2015, when it released a six-volume report after years of hearings and testimony from more than 6,000 residential school survivors and others.
How did the Truth and Reconciliation Commission view reconciliation?
Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future is a summary of the final TRC report. It begins by stating:
“For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada.”
“The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy…”
Later in that same section, the commission explains its view of reconciliation. Reconciliation is “about coming to terms with events of the past in a manner that overcomes conflict and establishes a respectful and healthy relationship among people, going forward.”
“In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgment of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”
What are the Calls to Action?
The TRC made 94 calls to action in order to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.” Those calls relate to various elements of Canadian society, such as education, justice, media, and business, as well as its citizens.
How is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action relevant to APEGS?
At APEGS’ May 2019 annual meeting, a motion was made “that Council give consideration to looking at the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to see how they relate to APEGS and see if there are further steps APEGS should be taking towards reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.”
Since then, APEGS has begun a journey to listen and learn to thoroughly understand how those 94 Calls to Action apply to APEGS’ role as a regulator and to our obligations as engineers and geoscientists.
APEGS’ journey includes engaging Indigenous Works to develop a strategy and plan for how APEGS can understand its obligations and respond to the calls to action appropriately.
What steps has APEGS taken so far?
APEGS uses the following land acknowledgments to recognize the importance of promoting the engineering and geoscience professions in a manner that is respectful, inclusive, and representative of society.
In-person meetings and events
I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional territories of the Nêhiyawak (Cree), Anihšināpēk (Saulteaux), Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. This meeting is located on Treaty # and recognizes Indigenous peoples long-standing presence in this territory. (Insert treaty number based on the location of the meeting. Large centres are as follows:
Treaty 4: Estevan, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Yorkton.
Treaty 6: North Battleford, Prince Albert, Saskatoon).
Virtual meetings and events
I would like to begin by acknowledging the Indigenous Peoples of all the lands that we are on today. While we meet today on a virtual platform, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of the lands, which we each call home. We do this to reaffirm our commitment and responsibility in improving relationships between nations and to improving our own understanding of local Indigenous peoples and their cultures.
APEGS website and on-demand online training
APEGS acknowledges that it regulates the engineering and geoscience professions in the jurisdiction of Saskatchewan which is comprised of portions of lands from Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10, the territories of the Nêhiyawak (Cree), Anihšināpēk (Salteaux), Dene, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda nations, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
Employee email signature
APEGS regulates the engineering and geoscience professions in the jurisdiction of Saskatchewan which is comprised of portions of lands from Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10, the territories of the Nêhiyawak (Cree), Anihšināpēk (Salteaux), Dene, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda nations, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
For a few years, APEGS has been offering more professional development sessions that focus on Indigenous matters and the obligations of engineers and geoscientists at its spring and fall PD days and the annual meeting and conference each May.
As of November 2021 all APEGS members have access to 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, an online course developed by the First Nations University of Canada. It is a self-paced course that takes about 2.5 hours to complete and may be claimed as Formal Activity in the APEGS CPD program in addition to satisfying the minimum of one hour of annual ethics training. Members are encouraged to take the course to raise their awareness and to participate in reconciliation.
The first 230 members who sign up for the course will receive free access. The regular cost is $38 plus tax.
4 Seasons of Reconciliation promotes a renewed relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians, through transformative multi-media learning. The course is designed to help fulfil Call to Action 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and provides insight into the history of residential schools, treaties around the country, and reconciliation and restitution initiatives. Featured are award-winning reconciliation documentaries, slideshows, quizzes and an additional video library that is available after you have completed the course.
Here is a link to a short trailer about the course:
How to access the course:
- Sign up using this form: https://share.hsforms.com/1zY6dQk6hRS-JKyVYJZH7eQ4z7zm
- The Reconciliation Education team will add you within two business days and an invoice* for $38 plus tax will be sent to your email from email@example.com
*The first 230 members to sign up will not be invoiced.
- Once the invoice is paid, you will receive a welcome email with course access from firstname.lastname@example.org
During October, the Indigenous Inclusion in Engineering Survey by Engineers Canada and APEGS took place. It aims to help both organizations “learn more about the experiences of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous engineers to ultimately support a more inclusive engineering profession for Indigenous peoples.” A link was emailed to all APEGS members who subscribe to informational emails inviting them to take part.
Guidelines for engineering consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities are being developed by the Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board (CEQB), which is a committee of Engineers Canada. The guidelines follow the development process in Engineers Canada Board policy. Engineers Canada is working with an Indigenous-led team from Urban Systems to modify processes to ensure equitable participation by Indigenous people in the guideline’s development. The guidelines are expected to be released in mid 2023 and will work with APEGS to distribute them.