Truth and Reconciliation: It’s Never too late to Answer the Calls for Action

By Sheila C. Serup

The annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 provides a time to reflect and consider how non-profits such as CHHA and its members can advance Canadian reconciliation all year round.

A visible way of honouring truth and reconciliation is the wearing of orange shirts on September 30th. This is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. Orange shirts symbolize the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

Throughout the year there are opportunities to address the calls for action. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which ran from 2008 to 2015, issued its final report that details 94 calls to action.

I communicated with Andrea Menard who is a Lead Educational Developer with the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Programming and Research Centre to explore how CHHA and its members can participate. As individuals and with our networks, there are several ways we can respond throughout the year. Here are a few for consideration.

Take an Online Native Studies Course:

The Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Edmonton offers an excellent 12-module course, titled Indigenous Canada: Looking Forward/Looking Back. This free course explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores issues important for understanding past and current relationships between Indigenous and settler societies. Of interest to CHHA members, it highlights national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

The University of Alberta has introduced two more courses: Indigenous Peoples and Technoscience, and Countering Stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples. These courses are offered through Coursera. Details:

Please check with your local colleges, universities, and libraries in your area to see what workshops are available to learn about Indigenous histories and issues.

Professional Development and Training #57:

This call is made to federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education on the history of Aboriginal peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and treaties and aboriginal rights among others. This may be an opportunity for boards and committees of CHHA networks to undertake training and understanding.

Education #7 and others:

With respect to Education calls to action, there may be opportunities to ensure that education and employment initiatives and programs are inclusive of Aboriginals with hearing loss along with non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Language and Culture #14:

With respect to the call to the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates principles around preserving, revitalizing, and strengthening Aboriginal Languages, there may be opportunities for CHHA national and networks to collaborate with Deaf organizations to ensure Aboriginal sign languages are included.

Health #19 and #23:

These call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. These goals could include hearing health, and the hearing needs of the Metis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples.

Business and Reconciliation #92:

As some CHHA networks and national offices have a business component, there may be an opportunity in its business activities to commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

Next Steps for Consideration:

Andrea Menard offered several next steps on how to answer and address some of the calls to action. She suggested reaching out to “Indigenous hard of hearing members and ask them how to proceed next by having meetings about it and ensuring food and beverages are there.” She noted the importance of inviting “an elder and ensure proper protocol is done and have an Indigenous-led meeting about where they would like to see the non-profit going.”

Another suggestion by Andrea Menard is for CHHA networks and/or national board “to implement an Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation Committee if the non-profit wants to start a committee, invite Indigenous members and make it Indigenous-led.”

The key is to ensure that the Committee is Indigenous-led and to allow for flexibility when meeting with Indigenous elders and/or Indigenous hard of hearing members.

Please take a moment to read the Calls to Action, and the UN Declaration

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action are available at:

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is available at:

I hope this blog opens the door for conversation, discussions, and actions in your communities. I welcome your thoughts, questions, and concerns, and I invite you to email me at