Joint Statement by Ministers Anandasangaree, Hajdu, Vandal, St-Onge, and Virani on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

OTTAWA, UNCEDED ALGONQUIN TRADITIONAL TERRITORY, ON, Sept. 30, 2023 /CNW/ – The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs; the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage; and the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, issued the following statement today to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

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Joint Statement by Ministers Anandasangaree, Hajdu, Vandal, St-Onge, and Virani on the National Day for Truth and Reconc

“Today, we honour and remember the children who never returned home, and those who continue to live with the trauma of residential schools. Survivors, their families, and communities have lived with the horrific legacy of residential schools for generations, and these impacts are still being felt.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place today to coincide with Orange Shirt Day, a movement started by Phyllis Webstad to commemorate when her bright orange shirt – a gift from her grandmother – was taken away on her first day at the St. Joseph’s Mission residential school.

For too long, the voices of Survivors and others impacted by former residential schools have been silenced, denied, or ignored. Today is a time for reflection and commemoration, to reaffirm our commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, to listen to Survivors, families, and Indigenous voices so that we can better understand the harm and pain caused by residential schools. When we listen with compassion, empathy, and a commitment to understanding, we build the foundation for discussions that can lead to meaningful action and change.

The powerful and moving statements, heard through the TRC, led directly to the Calls to Action contained in the Commission’s Final Report. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th as a federal statutory holiday fulfills TRC Call to Action #80.

The findings of potential unmarked burials at former residential school sites are another tragic reminder of the impacts of colonialism, and led to the Government of Canada’s appointment of Kimberly Murray as Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Residential Schools. We look forward to Ms. Murray’s ongoing work and final report. As Survivors and others have shared their painful lived experiences, we have come to a better understanding and appreciation of the profound harm over generations, and the continued need to maintain momentum toward reconciliation. Today, we honour the courage of those who have shared their stories, and the resilience of Indigenous Peoples – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis – across Canada.

A significant milestone was reached on June 20, 2023, when the Survivor-led Steering Committee announced that the Residential Schools National Monument will be installed on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa. The monument will stand in recognition of the painful legacy of the residential school system in Canada, and in support of Indigenous Peoples working toward healing while honouring the lives impacted by and lost at former residential schools.

Work also continues on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which includes the Action Plan released earlier this year on June 21. As called for by the TRC, and developed in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous partners, the UN Declaration Act Action Plan provides an evergreen roadmap of actions to bring about meaningful and lasting change, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

In 2019, Parliament passed An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, a significant legislative achievement to put an end to a cycle of intergenerational trauma caused by wrongs to Indigenous children, their families, and communities. The law re-empowers Indigenous communities to care for their own children, under their own laws, while ensuring children’s well-being is protected as they remain connected to their family, culture, and community.

This transformational work supports everyone as we move toward reconciliation for generations to come, building a better, more equitable future for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Orange Shirt Day – will be commemorated at events across the country, and we encourage you to participate, listen, and commit to being part of change.”

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