A Truth and Reconciliation Commitment Statement from Canada’s Leading Occupational Therapy Organizations Signals a New Path Forward

Press Release

Ottawa, ON, Sept. 29, 2023 — On September 30, 2023, Canada’s leading occupational therapy organizations reaffirmed their dedication to Indigenous Peoples in Canada through addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action with the announcement of a joint Occupational Therapy TRC Commitment Statement.

The document has been developed with leadership from the Occupational Therapy TRC Task Force’s Co-Chairs and Métis occupational therapists, Angie Phenix and Kaarina Valavaara, along with invited allies and members of the Boards of Directors of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation (COTF), the Alliance of Canadian Occupational Therapy Professional Associations (ACOTPA), the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO), and the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy University Programs (ACOTUP).

The organizations acknowledge that “transforming our colonial reality must be a responsibility shared by all Canadians” and the Commitment Statement represents “beginning steps in embracing this shared responsibility” with acknowledgement of the harmful colonizing narratives, policies, and practices in the Canadian occupational therapy profession and a commitment to change within their respective mandates.

“We want to recognize the TRC Task Force’s collective will and their commitment to working together and building relationships while creating a shared way forward with actions that we hope will be a catalyst for continued, creative collaborations,” say Ms. Phenix and Ms. Valavaara.

The Co-Chairs call upon all occupational therapists (OTs), occupational therapist assistants (OTAs), students, and other readers of the Commitment Statement to take responsibility and action to support the respective leadership organizations.

“Commitments are only as good as the individuals taking action and it is up to all of us to find ways to advance reconciliation and justice in our own spheres of influence,” says Ms. Valavaara. “Collectively, let us hold ourselves, others, and our leadership accountable, to do better, and to continue to move toward Truth and Reconciliation.”

The TRC Task Force was guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada Calls to Action, and the Final Report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in developing the statement.

“It is my hope that the actions outlined in the Commitment Statement will guide our organizations along with all OTs, OTAs, and students to embrace the critical learning and unlearning that needs to be undertaken as we increase our understanding of the impact of colonial actions on Indigenous Peoples and the subsequent intergenerational trauma many have endured,” says Karen Rebeiro Gruhl, a member of the OT TRC Task Force and a CAOT Board Director. “This public commitment offers a new path forward as we build upon the ongoing journey of reconciliation within Canada and is an encouraging first step as we acknowledge the truth of our complicity and seek to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Indigenous peoples across Canada.”

Click here to read the Occupational Therapy TRC Commitment Statement and here to view other TRC resources related to occupational therapy on CAOT’s website.



NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More