The University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee has released its final report, entitled Wecheehetowin (which means “working together” in Cree), calling on the University to take action: "The University's collective commitment to education is rooted in part in an assumption that learning liberates and empowers. The University may view itself as a benign actors in the social drama. If we learned anythings form the proceedings of the TRC, however, it is that for many Indigenous people, 'education' was by no means benign: it was a form of repression and abuse. It was intended to destroy cultures and it broke up communities.
The University did not run residential schools. It was not part of the government or of the religious communities that conceived of and implemented the policy that resulted in what the Chief Justice of Canada has described as "cultural genocide." Yet it must be acknowledged that the University educated generations of political leaders, policy makers, teachers, servants, and many others who were part of the system that created and ran the residential schools. Our researchers failed to investigate and challenge the system even when society began to know how profoundly damaging the schools were to Indigenous people.
The Committee states this history of oppression in which the University of Toronto is complicit, like all other major Canadian institutions, to start the path towards reconciliation from a place of honesty.
Rather than putting blame on Indigenous people for being 'underprepared' for university, the Committee has engaged its work from the perspective that our university needs to do more to be deserving of Indigenous students, and to be in right relationship with Indigenous people. This report is therefore directed at the University of Toronto as the site of needed intervention, rather than at Indigenous people.
If you are an Indigenous person reading this report, the Committee hopes that you see this work as a turning point for the University. If you are a residential school survivor, w hope that you will think of the University of Toronto as a place for you to study in a positive and healthy way..."