On Sunday last (July 8th), my partner and I were attending a Truth and Reconciliation Dinner at a church in Southampton. We found ourselves seated at a table with, among other attendees, the new Minister of Education for Ontario, MPP Lisa Thompson.
At each of these dinners, there is a presentation of some kind. This evening two grade seven students, one with Indigenous heritage, presented their research on residential schools and the impact the schools had had on their relatives, their families. Although very young, their research was thoughtful, insightful and well presented.
Before she rushed out to travel back to her position in Toronto, Minister Thompson lauded and praised these two young women. She invited them to an opening of an exhibit of “Aboriginal Art” at the legislature. Then she rushed off.
On Monday morning, the news rained down like gravel. The consultation for implementing TRC Calls to Action 62 and 64 was axed by her department to save some bucks. This project would have brought Indigenous history into the Ontario school curriculum at all levels.
Although her appearance was probably not intended to be a cynical statement on the relationship this new Conservative regime will forge with Ontario’s First Peoples, the hypocrisy cannot fail to stain the perceptions of those who were at that dinner seeking reconciliation and understanding.