Truth and reconciliation day no time ‘to brag’ about accomplishments: Minister
Sept. 30 a time for reflection, activism, say political leaders
On the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said the day isn’t an opportunity for politicians to boast about what they’ve done for reconciliation.
“This isn’t a day for our government to brag about the work that has been accomplished in a few short years,” Miller tweeted on Friday.
“As it was last year, this is a day of reflection, of understanding and of compassion where Indigenous voices are the ones that must be heard.”
Sept. 30 was established as a federal holiday to recognize the harm done to Indigenous individuals and families by Canada’s residential school system.
Miller said reconciliation means different things to different people and “it isn’t always linear and it certainly isn’t free, but it must always start with the truth.”
Federal, provincial and municipal governments, but also private actors like universities, businesses and individuals, all have an important role to play, he said.
Other political leaders also issued statements Friday, also known as Orange Shirt Day across the country.
“Today is an important day, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for all Canadians,” said Gov. Gen. Mary Simon who was born in Nunavik and is the first Indigenous person to hold that position.
“[It] is a day to reflect and to remind ourselves that when we acknowledge truth, listen to one another, and work together, we can build a more prosperous country where all of us have equal access to services and opportunities.
“Of course, Canada has more work to do. Reconciliation is committing ourselves to ongoing understanding and respect. It is remembering the pain caused by residential schools and the children who never made it home.
“But it is also celebrating joyful cultural expressions. Because this day is a mixture of every emotion, just like life itself.”
Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok, who will participate in events marking the day in Iqaluit, said the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is for some, a day of mourning.
“To others, it is a day of quiet reflection,” he said.
“Some will feel it is a day for conversation, while others will use this as a day of activism and expression.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the day an opportunity “for all Canadians to learn more, honour the survivors of residential schools, their families, and their communities, and remember the many children who never returned home.”
“Reconciliation is not the responsibility of Indigenous Peoples – it is the responsibility of all Canadians. It is our responsibility to continue to listen and to learn,” he said.