OTTAWA — Canada’s justice minister is wrapping up a visit to South Africa, where she met with Desmond Tutu, the activist and former bishop best known around the world for standing in opposition to apartheid.
Jody Wilson-Raybould was overseas to learn more about the country’s reconciliation efforts, a process similar to what indigenous people in Canada are going through now.
Tutu served as chairman of South Africa’s pioneering restorative justice body, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was convened after apartheid was abolished in 1994.
A similar commission in Canada documented the impact of this country’s residential school system — a government-funded, church-operated program for aboriginal children that was rife with sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
Wilson-Raybould says she witnessed first-hand the disparity that exists in South Africa between the wealthiest areas and the poorest, an echo of the economic gap that exists today in Canada’s indigenous communities.
She says she heard “loudly and clearly” during her visit that there is hope and people need to work together to ensure rights are recognized.
The justice minister also visited Australia and New Zealand last year to hear messages about how indigenous communities there are seeking to resolve issues including land disputes.