Lance Copegog, Deputy Youth Chief of the Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council, has written to Prime Minister Trudeau, requesting that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 66th Call to Action be implemented.

MaryAnn Mihychuk and members of the Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council.

CHRISTIAN ISLAND (July 13, 2017)–The Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council is testing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples by calling on him to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 66th Call to Action.

The 66th Call to Action calls upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding to community-based youth organizations, and to establish a national network to share information and best practices. Survivors of the Indian residential school system created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Led by Senator Murray Sinclair, it sought to redress injustices committed against Indigenous peoples.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, dated July 10th, 2017, Deputy Youth Chief Lance Copegog calls on Trudeau to “demonstrate leadership” and begin the process of implementation. Other First Nations leaders across Ontario, including Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Union of Ontario Indians and Regional Chief Isadore Day of the Chiefs of Ontario, wrote supporting correspondence.

Copegog and his Youth Council have repeatedly met with federal officials to discuss truth and reconciliation, as well as the status of implementing Call to Action #66. Minister Carolyn Bennett of Indigenous and Northern Affairs met with the Youth Council in a highly publicized visit to Beausoleil First Nation in January 2017. To date, Copegog has not received an update regarding the implementation of TRC 66.

“We are encouraged by this current government’s commitment to Indigenous peoples,” Copegog said in a statement. “However, true reconciliation will only be achieved by real, concrete actions.”

The Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council has been pushing officials within the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and “as many other departments” to implement TRC 66.

Copegog acknowledged that many non-Indigenous people hold views about Indigenous people that are not true. In Midland, Ontario, where many of Beausoleil First Nation’s students attend high school, the Youth Council has heard stories of their peers dealing with stereotypes.

“Ignorance can only be eradicated by education,” Copegog said. “Call to Action #66 would greatly assist us in delivering programs that advance and promote truth and reconciliation.”

The Deputy Youth Chief indicated that he would continue to push governments, at all levels, to assist in the implementation of Call to Action #66.

“We are going to make this [implementation of Call to Action #66] happen,” Copegog promised. “Implementation would be indicative of the Prime Minister’s commitment to reconciliation.”

The Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council will be hosting a Gathering on Truth and Reconciliation in the coming months. An update on the status of implementation will be delivered then.

The Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council represents the youth of the First Nation, advocates on their behalf, and creates a vision for the future.