TORONTO, March 22, 2005 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) has formally adopted a policy of support to communities seeking redress, including reparations, for historical wrongs committed against them. The Foundation, which was established as a part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement signed in 1988, acted on the adoption of the policy to give affected communities a clear statement of support that seeking redress and reparations is a valid undertaking for the healing of their communities to begin.
"There have been many communities that have experienced grievous wrongs, based on their racial or ethnic background, by laws or policies that existed in our country," noted AndrÃ©e Ménard, the Vice Chair of the Board of the CRRF. "They have indicated that they need some form of recognition of that fact which continues to have an impact on their lives as Canadians. We want these communities to know that the CRRF is committed to helping them seek redress and reparations in whatever form they feel is acceptable. The Foundation's role is to promote dialogue on this important subject."
The resolution, which was adopted at the CRRF Board's meeting in Calgary, reads:
There are a number of communities which are seeking some form of redress or reparations for historical acts of injustices committed against their ancestors and, in some cases, living survivors by governments in Canada. Among them are the indigenous peoples of Canada for land claims and treaty compliance and the forced assimilation and abuse of Aboriginal children in residential schools. Claims from non-Aboriginal peoples include: the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act; the imprisonment of leprosy patients, mostly Chinese, on two Victoria area islands; the Black Loyalists; Africville; the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during World War 1; the denial of entry of Jews fleeing persecution in Europe, and the internment of Italian Canadians during World War II, among others.
"In a number of cases, survivors of some of these historical wrongs - although they have lived here for years, have not truly felt that they belong," said Dr. Karen Mock, Executive Director of the Foundation. "In some cases, all it may take is an official acknowledgement. For others it could be more complex. Our job is to help them seek an acceptable solution."
Art Miki, a former vice chair of the CRRF and the current liaison for the National Association of Japanese Canadians, was very pleased by the policy adopted by the Foundation. "As someone who has lived through the experience of seeing mine and other families affected by the internment and the other gross violations of civil and human rights, and then to hear the Government of Canada, on behalf of the people of Canada, apologize for what happened, I can tell you that it makes a world of difference."
The Foundation hopes to convene a conference later this year with many of the communities involved to begin a process of consultation and cooperation in moving their demand for redress forward.