September 30, 2021 – Ottawa, Canada – Today, Canada has a new federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It’s a day to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by the residential schools, and to honour the survivors, and the families, and indeed entire communities who continue to grieve for those who were lost.
“The creation of a national day for truth and reconciliation is an important step towards healing,” said Inuit Circumpolar Council President Monica Ell-Kanayuk. “Healing takes time, in some cases it will take a lifetime. Many Inuit are on the healing path. Our communities need healing as a result of the intergenerational trauma passed down from relatives over the decades. A day like this allows everyone in Canada to reflect on what happened as a result of the residential schools. This year especially, with the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the grounds of former residential schools, we have reason to pause and reflect on the profound meaning of truth and reconciliation.”
In June 2021, the House of Commons unanimously passed legislation to make September 30th a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The designated paid holiday for federal employees also addresses one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
“I’m sure we will see a lot of people wearing orange shirts today,” said Monica Ell-Kanayuk. “Symbols are important. Wearing an orange shirt, or displaying an orange flag, or an orange ribbon shows you care and helps in our national healing process. I commend provinces and territories who have come on board and also declared a statutory holiday today so that more people can take the time to reflect on what happened. We’re all in this together.”
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