An ongoing journey towards healing and relationship building
At Scouts, our values are founded on kindness, respect for others and self-progression; however, we have not always been true to these guiding qualities. Scouting has not consistently been a safe and inclusive place for all youth, and for this we are sorry.
As part of Canada’s residential and day school system, Scouting was the program of choice used alongside the Church, to strip First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth of their cultural identities.
In order to be a welcoming organization where all youth and volunteers feel they belong, we must first recognize and apologize for the specific wrongs we have done, and the ongoing impact of our actions, against First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
Our Apology Statement
To First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples;
We come before you today in the spirit of truth, accountability, and healing. We are humbled to be here, and we are grateful to you for giving us the time to deliver this long-overdue message. That message is… we are sorry.
It is now clear, more than ever, that the Scouting movement in Canada must take responsibility for some painful and ugly truths about our history. In particular, we wish to publicly acknowledge that our movement has played what we believe to be a direct and, at times, complicit role in the eradication of Indigenous cultures within the geographic boundaries of what we now call Canada.
On behalf of Scouts Canada, and on behalf of every historical iteration of our movement, we are sincerely sorry for the historical harm we believe we have inflicted on Indigenous children, families, communities, and nations. And let me be clear: we are equally sorry for the legacies of that harm, which we acknowledge continue to exist to this day. We are sorry for the role that we believe
Scouting has played in perpetuating both formal and informal systems of racism and discrimination, and for the many injustices perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples in the name of colonialism and imperialism.
We apologize to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples for having to wait so long for our movement to listen and to understand the negative role we believe we played in our relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
We are keenly aware of the huge responsibility placed at the feet of our organization. Because we impact more than 45,000 young people and families across the country who are directly involved in Scouting, we know that our words, actions and deeds are extremely consequential. This is a responsibility we, as an organization, take very seriously, and with this responsibility comes the need to be accountable for our actions.
We have spent the last several years investigating our history. We know that Scouting as a global movement emerged against a backdrop of European and Canadian colonialism and imperialism. And with those sad historical forces came racism, white supremacy, and the attempted subjugation of individuals and cultures who were deemed inferior. Sadly, the Scouting movement in Canada was not immune to the negative elements of this history.
Our investigation has been far-reaching, including archival research conducted by professional historians, the review of records from residential and day school survivors who shared their lived experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and extensive discussions with our Indigenous advisory group.
By taking an honest look at ourselves, we believe that Scouting took place in collaboration with residential and day schools across Canada on a large and undeniable scale. Because of the imperialist spirit and intent of the Scouting movement internationally at that time, Scouting was a natural fit for the primary objectives of these schools.
We are saddened and ashamed that our movement played such a part in this terrible system designed to erase First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures. These are cultures which Scouting devalued, but which we also romanticized and took for our own uses. We believe that we have appropriated Indigenous cultures to promote our own ways of being and knowing. We have run our programs on your land for over a century, without acknowledging the actions and harm our organization has caused, and without ever asking ourselves what kind of impact our actions were having on Indigenous Peoples.
Scouting is a 115-year-old movement. One of our core values has always included a stewardship for nature. However, this important core value has never included the long-standing perspectives, values, and practices of land stewardship that are embedded in traditional Indigenous ways of being. This exclusion was not by accident. Rather, the exclusion was very much by design.
The Scouting movement that I want to belong to not only acknowledges this reality, but learns from it. The movement that I want to belong to is one that genuinely commits to countering racism, discrimination, and exclusion wherever it occurs.
We consider ourselves to be a values-driven movement, and we take seriously our mission of developing well-rounded youth who are better prepared for success in the world. But we also believe that, in many respects, we have failed to stay true to the values we have always espoused, and we are here today to tell you that we as an organization need to do better.
Going forward, we need to live up to our stated values of trust, equity and respect, while grounding our future actions in reciprocity. We must build an organization and a movement that is free from our original racist and paternalistic relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Only through doing that are we able to set an authentic tone of inclusion and respect for anyone who wants to belong to our movement. Only through doing that are we able to truly make amends for the harm that we believe we have caused.
To our Scouts Canada members, past, present, and future: We recognize that the diversity of Scouting in Canada means that members of our organization will be in different places when it comes to accepting the harm that Scouting has caused, and continues to cause, Indigenous communities. However, the moment has arrived for us all to understand and acknowledge the significance of this apology as a critical first step in building a new relationship between our movement and Indigenous Peoples.
We will need your support in forging this new relationship. Our ability to role model a commitment to Scouts Canada’s truth and reconciliation journey to the young people we serve is now a necessity, not simply a request.
To First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities: we understand that you have cared for this land since time immemorial. As we walk our organizational journey of truth and learning, we hope to one day be seen by you as a trusted ally and friend. We are clear that any action we take in search of reconciliation must be co-designed with the communities we have harmed. But some actions are clear to us.
We believe our program must change to accurately reflect our history and celebrate indigenous culture. We believe that how and where Scouting is delivered must allow for ownership by Indigenous communities, when… and if… Scouting is wanted by those communities. And we believe the way we use our resources, and who secures power and influence within our Movement, must be used to uplift and empower Indigenous peoples.
Our apology today is a necessary step – but we recognize that it is only words, and that these words are meaningless unless supported by action. We will make these intentions transparent and create ways for you to hold us to account in delivering on them.
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to change our past. But we can change our present and our future. I hope that, with this apology, we can work on building a new relationship of trust and mutual respect.
We realize that it is our responsibility to prove to you that we are acting in good faith, and we take this responsibility with seriousness and humility. I am aware that we are asking you to extend to us something we never extended to you – which is a spirit of trust, respect, and friendship, and your time in helping us to build a new relationship that can begin to heal the damage we have caused you.
We understand that the journey is not an easy one, but we are committed to moving forward alongside you, should you choose to accept the message we have presented here today.
Thank you sincerely for your time, and for giving us the space to share this long-overdue apology.