Truth and Reconciliation

In October 2017, guided by the overarching belief that reconciliation with First and Métis Nations is a responsibility of all Canadians, Courthouse Libraries BC began a process of identifying which Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action were most applicable to the work we do. We discussed which Calls to Action intersected with our work and where we could make a significant impact in advancing the TRC recommendations. 

We identified the following Calls to Action as highest priority in our organization:

7.   We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

13. We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.

17. We call upon all levels of government to enable residential school Survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.

20. In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize,  respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples.

22. We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.

27. We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

28. We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.

29. We call upon the parties and, in particular, the federal government, to work collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to have disputed legal issues determined expeditiously on an agreed set of facts.

31. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.

34. We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including:
     i. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
     ii. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
     iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.
     iv. Adopting appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety.

36. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.

39. We call upon the federal government to develop a national plan to collect and publish data on the criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization.

42. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner  consistent  with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012.

43. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

69. We call upon Library and Archives Canada to:
     i. Fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples’ inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools.
     ii. Ensure that its record holdings related to residential schools are accessible to the public.
     iii. Commit more resources to its public education materials and programming on residential schools.

83. We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process.

Welcome signs

In acknowledgement of the languages of the First Nations on whose territory our libraries are located, we have started installing welcome messages in the local Indigenous languages in our library branches.


  • Welcome signs have been installed in the Smithers, Prince George, Vancouver, New Westminster, and North Vancouver branches.
  • Eventually, we hope to see welcome signs in the local First Nation languages in all our branches.
  • The translations for these signs were done by the local First Nation bands.

Art work

One of our goals was to make our library spaces more welcoming and inviting. We chose to support and showcase the diverse art created by Indigenous artists throughout the regions in BC which our libraries serve. We hope this initiative will also help to raise awareness about the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada and inspire meaningful conversations about what we can do individually and collectively to advance the process of reconciliation in our communities


  • Art has been hung in Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Smithers, Vancouver, Victoria, Penticton, Quesnel and Duncan.
  • The internal Truth and Reconciliation Working Group (TRWG) continually assesses our print collection as it relates to Indigenous law, Aboriginal justice systems, UNDRIP resources, information on the history of residential schools and working with Indigenous clients
  • New titles have been recommended and approved for purchase
  • Lynda Gray’s First Nations 101, a introductory guide to many issues facing Indigenous peoples, has been purchased for every CLBC branch
  • Input and recommendations are ongoing.
  • Many of the subject headings in our catalog records have been changed to incorporate more appropriate terminology. These changes are being introduced in an effort to acknowledge the language which Indigenous groups use to self identify.  
    • The heading “Indians of North America” has changed to “Indigenous peoples”
    • The heading “Indians” in reference to Indigenous peoples has been changed to reflect Indigenous terminology
    • The subject headings “Métis”, “Inuit”, and “First Nations” have been added to related records
    • If a book predominantly focuses on a single First Nation or a few specific Nations, the names of those Nations has been used as a subject heading.
    • BC First Nation names have been drawn from the Xwi7xwa Library First Nations subject heading list
    • The terminology choices are based on a number of sources including the Xwi7xwa First Nations Subject Headings and the Manitoba Archival Information Network subject headings.
    • The project was completed at the end of 2018.

CLBC would like to acknowledge that as a provincial organization, we gratefully provide our services on the traditional territory of BC's First and Métis Nations.