HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, NL – Six people were appointed to the interim board of directors for the National Council for Reconciliation just before the holiday season, including an Inuk from Labrador.
Clint Davis, originally from Happy Valley-Goose Bay and now living in Toronto, was one of the six chosen for the board.
Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, a former commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will chair the interim board, joined by Davis, Max FineDay, Mike DeGagné, Edith Cloutier and Jean Teillet.
Davis told the Labradorian he’s humbled to be chosen to be a part of the conversation and to be on the board with such prestigious Indigenous leaders.
He is the only Inuk on the board and the only person from the east coast. This gives him a different lens through which to view reconciliation, he said.
“The experience that we’ve had in the Arctic is different,” Davis told the Labradorian. “The fact that we went through a period of resettlement and so on, it’s a different experience. As the Inuit we have a common language and culture so we get strength from that, but reconciliation is still a fundamental part of our culture.”
The interim board will be in place for about six months and will provide a report to the minister of Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Essentially, it’s providing government advice on how to establish the national council on reconciliation, Davis said.
Board members will engage with various stakeholders to recommend options for establishing the National Council for Reconciliation and the endowment of a National Reconciliation Trust.
“Reconciliation is not just an Indigenous issue, it's a Canadian one, and it will take genuine collaboration at all levels to advance this journey,” Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs stated in a press release.
“I am honoured that these highly accomplished and dedicated individuals have agreed to serve on interim board of the reconciliation council. I look forward to receiving their concrete recommendations that will further the government's commitment to advancing reconciliation for the benefit of all Canadians.”
Creating the board is one of the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Davis said helping form it is being part of history.
“The council itself is going to be a historic institution. It’s going to report independently of Parliament, looking at what can be done to measure progress of reconciliation, which I think is truly phenomenal.”
While it’s one thing to receive an in-person apology for residential schools from the prime minister, which Davis said is commendable, he says reconciliation has to continue to move forward.
One thing he would like to see in the reconciliation process is recognition of Inuit communities and the fact they have been ignored for so long by decisions makers and governments in the south.
“To quote Natan Obed, ‘our country isn’t built yet’ and when you look at Inuit Nunangat, every single one of our communities is on diesel,” said Davis.
“Virtually every one of our communities have very substandard internet. We have issues around boil water advisories, schools, hospitals and other social infrastructure.
“In Canada’s identity to the world, it tries to be an Arctic country, yet we do very little to make sure we have the proper investments that the Inuit can have a standard of living comparable to every other Canadian.”
Davis said he would also like to see an open and honest dialogue about how business leaders and the business community can become actively involved in reconciliation.
He said there’s great work being done across the country by some companies recognizing the need to invest in communities, to ensure they are doing what they can to support Indigenous business.
“Indigenous entrepreneurs will go out and hire other Indigenous people and build a healthy lifestyle by creating that entrepreneurism and supporting it,” he said. “Like every other facet of Canadian society, business certainly has a role to play in reconciliation and I hope we shine a light on that as part of this work.