Reconciliation is a process of healing and restoring friendly relations—a process Canada is working toward between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. For over 100 years, Indigenous children in Canada were required to attend government-funded residential schools, which removed them from their communities and the influence parents had in the spiritual, cultural and intellectual development of First Nations, Métis and Inuit children. The last residential school closed in 1996, but its legacy continues to affect Indigenous Peoples today. The Government of Canada is working to renew a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, but all Canadians have a role to play in reconciliation. In 2008, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, and in 2016, Canada adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Reconciliation is a long-term process that will take generations to complete. In Canada, there are still many social injustices faced by Indigenous peoples that act as barriers to forming new and fair relationships. Many Indigenous families face barriers to accessing necessities that other Canadians take for granted: quality education, clean water, housing and food security.
Schools on First Nations reserves are underfunded, and housing for both First Nations and Inuit communities is often overcrowded or in need of repair. As of May 2016, 84 First Nations communities were under advisory not to drink the contaminated water coming out of their taps. Food insecurity in Canadian Arctic communities is five to six times the national average, with many people struggling to feed their families.