Urban reconciliation welcome
In the 1950s and ‘60s I grew up in the west end of Toronto where I attended public and high schools in the now defunct Etobicoke School Board.
As a child, I really did not understand that I was being treated differently from my classmates simply because I was recognized as an Indian.
As an adult, I have come to understand that my negative treatment was the result of the same social attitudes that were responsible for the residential school system and its deplorable treatment of Aboriginal students.
Astonishingly on June 30, 2016, as Dr. Bob Phillips, I was invited to Burnhamthorpe Collegiate to address the graduating class a half-century after having been thrown out of that same high school.
Since my PhD is in Indigenous Studies, I am watchful of how our Aboriginal students are treated now. Going into schools like Eastview Public School or the Aboriginal Education Centre today, I am encouraged to see the Seven Grandfather Teachings prominently displayed and evidence of Aboriginal language courses.
Moreover, the Toronto District School Board presents specific curriculum to all students to acquaint them with the true history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and my involvement at Burnhamthorpe was a part of that.
The good that has been done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has extended much farther than one might have expected. With over fifty percent of our people now living in urban areas, I welcome what appears to be a new and powerful urban reconciliation.
Dr. Robert A. Phillips