The act of reconciling

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Flisfeder (2010) notes the government of Canada taking a progressive step towards creating the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) and Truth and Reconciliation Commission in his paper, A Bridge to Reconciliation: A Critique of the Indian Residential School Truth Commission (TRC). The author recognizes that the initiative is a positive step in the right direction. However, he criticizes the commission's work for lacking sincerity, claiming that it falls well short of standards. For example, he claims that the Commission is concerned with uncovering the facts but not with resolving the primary issue, which is to bring about reconciliation. In essence, the author argues that finding the truth without addressing the historical injustices and seeking effective reconciliation is meaningless.

The author traces the route taken by the establishment of the TRC and observes that it differs fundamentally from courtroom adjudication. In this regard, he states the TRC has a unique opportunity to act as an arbitrator in conflicts; basically, the TRC is an effective alternative to dispute resolution. Understandably, some people might regard the TRC as a quasi-judicial setup, because the head is a judge. However, the author proves that the TRC is unique, because it gives emphasis to reconciliation, and not the conviction of people that might have been involved in perpetrating injustices. Hence, it is imperative for the TRC to go beyond finding the truth and ensure it reconciles those involved in the conflicts. The victims ought to feel that justice has been served, while the perpetrators should acknowledge their role and seek genuine forgiveness for the transgressions. The failure to ensure justice on both parts amounts to the abdication of duty on the part of the TRC.

The author underscores the mandate of the TRC. He observes it includes recommendations to the Canadian government regarding the IRS system. Furthermore, the mandate encompasses the experiences, history, purpose, functioning, and supervision of the IRS system (Flisfeder, 2010). Furthermore, the author states that the TRC has to analyze the consequences of the IRS system by examining the harms, the effects on the subsequent generations, and the impact it had on human dignity. Ultimately, the TRC has to explore the ongoing legacy of the schools. Thus, it is evident that the mandate of the TRC is broad and has far-reaching implications. It goes beyond the need to find the truth about the system; rather, it requires the TRC to seek ways to effective reconciliation. Finally, the author observes that the mindset that led to the perpetration of the injustices is still evident in the current Canadian society, and so, calls for a paradigm shift concerning the atrocities. Hence, he proves that the TRC lost an opportunity to reconcile the Canadian society, because it did not take the option of restorative justice.

Part 2: Response to Justice Murray Sinclair’s Quote

Justice Murray Sinclair makes a sobering observation, when he claims that the road to reconciliation requires the active participation of all segments of the society. However, it is imperative for Justice Sinclair to understand that reconciliation can only manifest, when the aggrieved and the aggressor reach consensus on the way forward, and then follow their resolution with meaningful steps to reach the required destination (Malley-Morrison, Mercurio, & Twose, 2013). Nearly all societies have disagreed in the course of time. In essence, there is the need to ensure that all people that feel ostracized or disenfranchised in any way to have a platform to address their concerns to the relevant authorities and the people that aggrieved them.

However, it is important for the aggressor to have an equal chance at defending his or her actions. After unearthing the truth, it is imperative for all parties of the conflict to show genuine concern for reconciliation based on mutual respect for each other. In this regard, Justice Sinclair’s observation is pertinent given the state of the world, where those in positions of power and authority have historically abused people systematically. Reaching the envisioned destination requires the active participation of all members of the society. The failure to include the views and opinions of all stakeholders renders the efforts at reconciliation ineffective.

Part 3: Personal Definition of Reconciliation

I believe reconciliation implies a situation, where people come together to address some of the salient issues that cause division among them, and then decide on active ways of addressing them. For reconciliation to occur, I believe the environment must be favorable, and that those involved should feel free to air their views and opinions without the fear of retribution. Most importantly, there should be the genuine attempt to reach reconciliation based on the truth. In this regard, no party should attempt to conceal the truth with falsehood, because that defeats the essence of reaching an agreement. In addition, I believe reconciliation entails building bridges by destroying all barriers that hinder agreement. However, all parties of the conflict should admit that the grievances and injustices were committed, and then decide on the way forward for the sake of permanent peace.

References

Flisfeder, M. A. (2010). A Bridge to Reconciliation: A Critique of the Indian Residential School Truth Commission. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, vol. 1(1): 1-21

Malley-Morrison, K., Mercurio, A., & Twose, G. (2013). International handbook of peace and reconciliation. New York, NY: Springer.

November 03, 2022
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