Truth and Reconciliation in the Sport Heritage Community
The residential school system, established in the mid-1800’s, forced Indigenous children across Canada to attend government sponsored schools that were meant to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian society. The schools, often operated by religious organizations, separated children from their families and forbid them from speaking their native languages or practicing their cultures. Abuse and neglect were endemic at residential schools, the last of which closed in 1996, and the repercussions are still being felt today by families of survivors through inter-generational trauma in addition to the survivors themselves.
In 2007 the Federal Government and the churches that operated residential schools, agreed to provide financial compensation to former students under the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Out of this agreement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established “to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians.” From 2007 to 2015, the Commission created a historical record of the residential schools system, heard from more than 6,500 witnesses and hosted seven national events to engage the Canadian public, educate them about the legacy of the system and share the experiences of former students and their families. In 2015, the Commission released its full report including 94 Calls to Action to address the legacy of residential schools and move reconciliation efforts forward.
Call to Action #87 specifically identifies sport heritage:
87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.
The Canadian Association for Sport Heritage calls on our members to support Call to Action #87 and share the ways your organization is working on the Call to Action with CASH. Submissions from member organizations will be posted below.
Resources for Undertaking Truth and Reconciliation Initiatives
Consult with your local First Nations when developing programs and plans
Free online course offered by the University of Alberta “Indigenous Canada” https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
 Government of Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, “Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada” (https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1450124405592/1529106060525) accessed August, 23, 2021.
 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, United Nations, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Truth & Reconciliation: Calls to Action. 2015 (https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf) accessed August 23, 2021.
How Sport Halls of Fame are Approaching Reconciliation
BC Sports Hall of Fame Indigenous Sport Gallery
The gallery celebrates Indigenous and First Nations athletes who have made an impact on British Columbia’s sport history. It is the largest permanent museum gallery or exhibit devoted to Indigenous sport in Canadian history in North America today and possibly worldwide. The BC Sports Hall of Fame has been an international leader in celebrating Indigenous sport achievements for over a decade since the opening of the Aboriginal Sport Gallery in 2008, which at the time was the first permanent museum exhibit devoted to Indigenous/Aboriginal sport in North America. The approach to build the gallery was truly collaborative province-wide with key Hall of Fame staff working with a committee of Indigenous Sport leaders to develop the gallery concept and content. Further communication with and input from other Indigenous sport athletes, leaders, and communities refined the gallery content and made the gallery truly inclusive of all peoples, genders, and sports.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame – Indigenous Sports Heroes Education Experience
This multimedia exhibit is a national education initiative designed for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students and will be available at no cost to teachers across Canada. This seven-year initiative was created by Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in collaboration with Indigenous Hall of Famers and countless Indigenous, sport, museum and historical partners. The Indigenous Sport Heroes Education Experience is the first of its kind educational exhibit that shares the stories of the 14 Indigenous Hall of Famers. This initiative will bring awareness to the truths and experiences of these incredible Indigenous heroes, which in turn, prompts conversation about equity and inclusion, through the lens of sport, to ultimately foster a more informed, united, inclusive and stronger Canada. The digital book also includes chapters on the creation of the Tom Longboat Award, Tom Longboat award winners and Indigenous Games featuring the Arctic Winter Games, North American Indigenous Games and the World Indigenous Games.