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Statement from our Board of Governors

June 07, 2021

Friends in Scouting
Earlier this week, Scouts Canada joined all Canadians in mourning the loss of 215 children at the former Kamloops residential school and noted that as an organization we recognize that we have a long journey towards our own reconciliation.
Today, the Board of Governors met to discuss the role that Scouting played in the residential school system. We discussed Scouting’s history in Canada and talked about the importance of openness, transparency and engagement with Indigenous communities.
I would like to share the text of the Board’s unanimous resolution with you as a first step in communicating the actions we are taking today. Board resolutions are not normally shared, but I think it is important to be open and transparent about Scouts Canada’s history and about how we want to begin to address it.
We will be communicating much more about what we are going to do. In the meantime, I ask that you take a few minutes to review the text and reflect on the role we can all play.
We don’t want to do more harm. We recognize that through intentional and unintentional actions and inactions we have already caused harm. We regret that and want to ensure that we move forward deliberately and sincerely in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
We need to be respectful. In order to move forward in a meaningful way, we must create a safe space for all members to reflect and voice their thoughts, emotions and concerns. As a land-based organization, we must center Indigenous perspectives as well as other diverse cultures in our movement, listen and learn together, and allow time for reflection and consideration before we act. This is critical.
We must ACT with purpose. Dismantling systems of discrimination is complex work that requires intentional and informed action. We will investigate our involvement in the residential school system along with understanding our colonial origins so we can authentically apologize for the way our organization has impacted Indigenous communities.
We need a commitment to specific action the Board, Staff, and Volunteers will take as a whole to improve our collective awareness and understanding of reconciliation and our history.
WHEREAS as part of Scouts Canada’s ongoing work in the area of diversity and inclusion, the Board recognizes the importance of a journey to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, a journey which must include acknowledging our role in the residential school system, but also a deep reflection on how our history, our programs and practices have or continue to have negative impacts on Indigenous Peoples to this day;
AND WHEREAS Scouts Canada is committed to understanding our history as a land-based movement and the role that our Scouting program has played in contributing to the intergenerational harm resulting not only from the residential school system but also the individual acts of those involved in Scouting and the broader impacts of colonization;
AND WHEREAS we must not act arbitrarily, and any and all steps taken must be done in consultation with impacted Indigenous communities and partners;
AND WHEREAS Scouts Canada is committed to an open and respectful discussion of the role of Scouting in residential schools, with a promise to fully and transparently share any and all information held by Scouts Canada. We aim to enable all our members and all Indigenous peoples and Canadians to fully understand the history of our organization
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Board of Governors of Scouts Canada will personally dedicate significant time to its own education and understanding of our history, involvement in colonial activities, and indigenous reconciliation and encourages all members of Scouts Canada to do the same.
AND FURTHER THAT the Board of Governors of Scouts Canada will dedicate time and resources to auditing current policies and procedures to identify systemic racism; this audit will give particular attention to Scouting’s colonial origins and our impact on Indigenous communities through the residential school system and other actions.
AND FURTHER THAT Scouts Canada commit publicly to creating a respectful discussion surrounding Scouting’s role in the residential school system that includes outlining how Scouters and youth members can contribute;
AND FURTHER THAT Scouts Canada will actively engage Indigenous Scouters, youth, family members and external stakeholders in Scouts Canada’s ongoing work to develop programming that serves all communities, and will facilitate and enable discussions around ongoing issues such as the use of Indigenous language, imagery and symbolism.
AND FURTHER THAT Scouts Canada commit publicly to an investigation into the records held by Scouts Canada from the time residential schools were open in order to understand the role Scouting played;
AND FURTHER THAT Scouts Canada publicly acknowledge that Scouting played a role in the residential school system and has harmed indigenous communities in other ways, for which we wish to apologize, so we will continue our work towards making a meaningful and authentic apology to survivors of residential schools, their families, and all Indigenous peoples, for the harm that has been done. We recognize that we do not yet have a complete understanding of all that happened, but believe apology is an important first step, yet we recognize that, as we learn more, we will need to more meaningfully and properly engage with individual Indigenous communities;
AND FURTHER THAT Scouts Canada commit publicly that Indigenous symbols are not to be used in Scouting without appropriate consultation and approval of appropriate Indigenous communities;
AND FURTHER THAT Scouts Canada commit publicly that we will conduct a national review of Scouts Canada property names and Group names, and explore revising names appropriated from Indigenous languages or communities, through consultation and consensus with appropriate Indigenous communities.
Yours in Scouting,
Andrew Obee
Section Scouter - 5th Meadowvale
Chair, Board of Governors Scouts Canada
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