Letters from hundreds of Stratford students urging Canadian politicians to implement all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s nearly seven-year-old calls to action were delivered to Perth-Wellington MP John Nater on Friday.
Written on orange postcards that included the words Every Child Matters, the 520 letters represent a portion of those collected during a Stratford Public Library campaign surrounding last year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
tap here to see other videos from our team.
“Having (Stratford District secondary school) participate in this initiative allowed students to demand change at a larger scale,” student council president Hewan Amare said in a statement. “With such a large number of students, we hope that we can encourage Mr. Nater to implement the calls to action.”
Besides enacting the 94 calls to action endorsed by the commission in 2015, the letters also push government officials towards conducting forensic searches on properties used for residential schools, providing clean water, equitable access to health care, and minimum housing standards for all Indigenous peoples in Canada, honouring treaties with First Nations communities, and incorporating accurate education about Indigenous history and culture into school curricula.
“I look forward to reading them,” Nater said. “I think going forward there’s a lot of work we need to do as communities, as provinces, and as a country to work towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Seeing this commitment from young people to reconciliation … is a positive step forward.”
The enthusiasm students brought to the letter-writing campaign last year “just blew us away,” public services librarian Pam Maten said. “I have a lot of hope for that generation. Their knowledge on Indigenous issues and environmental issues is way beyond any previous generation’s and I think they’re going to make a difference in this world and they’re going to be demanding change from government, corporations, and individuals.”
The library also collected letters from the broader community and encouraged Stratford residents to mail them to local officials directly. Nater said his office received a “solid number.”
“I think there’s goodwill, but its now time to turn that goodwill into action,” he said.