Speaking up: at the heart of reconciliation between communities



Some thirty truth and reconciliation commissions have been established around the world since 1974 to address crimes perpetrated by governments against their own citizens. The best known is undoubtedly South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created to investigate crimes committed during the apartheid regime. In Canada, the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2006 to learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools to which aboriginal children were sent. These children were deprived of their culture and their language, and many were victims of physical and sexual abuse. Dany Rondeau, research professor in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Université du Québec à Rimouski, is interested in the ethical issues relating to these commissions. Her research shows that commissions that are based on a principle of restorative justice promote recognition and identity reconstruction, and introduce conditions that encourage reconciliation and the restoration of community harmony.

This philosophical research provides a practical application for ethical theories that accord a central role to expression and dialogue.

This philosophical research provides a practical application for ethical theories that accord a central role to expression and dialogue. The ethical approaches identified by Dany Rondeau include the narrative approach, which focuses on the importance of individual testimony to identity reconstruction and event memory, and the discussion approach, which emphasizes the conditions necessary for the development of self-defined norms for conducting debate.

This research, which is certainly pertinent to the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is contributing to a better understanding of the factors that promote successful reconciliation between different communities and allow them to live together in peace.