MP REPORT: Truth and Reconciliation summary report tabled in Ottawa

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.

A number of events are occurring in Ottawa on and around Parliament Hill this week.

One event that I believe is of interest to all Canadians are ceremonies related to the release of the summary report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. For those who may be unfamiliar, this was a report into one of our countries darkest times as aboriginal children were taken from their families and communities to attend residential schools. For many aboriginal students horrific injustices occurred in these institutions where it has been revealed that children suffered serious abuse, violence, and thousands of children were never to return home. In some cases the location and remains of loved ones are still unknown to family members.

The summary report released this week is roughly 400 pages and contains 94 recommendations intended to help achieve true reconciliation. The full report will be released in the near future that will also be responded to by government. Some of the key recommendations involve increased education for all Canadians regarding the history of residential schools in Canada as well as improving education for first nation’s children and greater efforts to close the poverty gap that exists in many first nation communities. From my perspective I believe we must work in partnership to identify solutions that reduce poverty and increase education completion rates. It is also important to focus on employment and healthy living including accessible healthcare. True reconciliation is an important principle to help overcome this unacceptable chapter in Canadian history. We must also recognize the courage of many victims who came forward to share their painful experiences with the commission. I will report again on this important topic again when the full report is released and more information is available.

This week in Ottawa also saw the release of the independent investigation and related report into the shooting that occurred on Parliament Hill in October of 2014. This report concluded that 56 shots were fired between RCMP and House of Commons security. Of the 56 shots fired 31 hit the assailant with 2 of these 31 considered to be rapidly fatal. Neither drugs nor alcohol were detected in the post-mortem investigation of the deceased. The report also identified areas of concern with respect to House of Commons security protocols and in total proposes 66 recommendations.

Closer to home I have been asked for comment regarding child killer Allan Schoenborn being issued escorted day pass by the BC Review board.

For those who may be unaware, in 2008 Mr. Schoenborn murdered his three children: 10-year-old Kaitlynne, 8-year-old Max, and 5-year-old Cordon in Merritt before fleeing police. I have heard from the family directly who shared this horrific tragedy with members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in June of 2013. This was truly one of the most heartbreaking events heard by this committee as the family continues to live in fear of Mr. Schoenborn to this very day.

This is an example where parts of our justice system still can fail victims and families. Although legal changes have occurred since this disturbing act of violence was committed these changes cannot be applied retroactively and will not change this difficult situation for the family.  In my view these situations are unacceptable and I will continue to support putting the interests and concerns of families and victims ahead of criminals. No family should be forced to relive a horrific event and live in fear for their safety. I welcome your comments and questions on the subjects mentioned today or any other matter before the House of Commons. I can be reached at dan.albas@parl.gc.ca or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.