CMHA Toronto joins Canadians across the country in observing the country’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. The day was established by the federal government to honour survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Today we remember mourning the thousands of children who died at the hands of government and church-run residential schools. Indigenous children were kidnapped from their parents and forced to experience physical, psychological and spiritual violence in the schools. To this day, communities continue to contend with the grief and trauma caused by the residential schools and continue to mourn the loss of thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit.
We recognize that the residential schools are the product of colonialism, which is not a past event, but an ongoing process that systematically discriminates against Indigenous peoples today. Governments have failed to take meaningful action to address the systemic violence against Indigenous peoples and address poverty, racism, homelessness, and land claims. Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in Canada’s child welfare system despite the known mental health impacts of separating children from their families. And lack of access to clean water, health and mental health care, employment, education and safe housing are part of the daily psychological stresses and human rights violations experienced by many Indigenous communities in Canada.
CMHA National acknowledges that as the largest and one of the oldest providers of community mental health services in Canada, it must take responsibility and the steps needed to address the harmful ways our mental health system has upheld racist and colonial practices. CMHA Toronto stands with CMHA National in their commitment to engaging decision-makers to fully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action on mental health and well-being and supporting the delivery of Indigenous-led mental health services and programs. The shift to understanding mental health from a systemic perspective is also reflected in CMHA’s new vision launched in 2021: A Canada where mental health is a universal human right.
CMHA Toronto is committed to taking steps towards truth and decolonization and has formed a truth and reconciliation committee that will work in the following ways:
• Increase educational and awareness opportunities for staff and leaders on Indigenous ways of knowing and being and on Indigenous concerns and issues
• Create meaningful and mutual partnerships with Indigenous healing organizations to support their clients and programming
• Increase media presence on CMHA Toronto’s website on Indigenous issues, programs and supports
• Establish an internal community of practice to support the integration of truth and reconciliation into operations, programming and services across the organization
For more information and a schedule of virtual Truth and Reconciliation events open to the general public, visit the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation website.