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Today is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.
The day is a direct response to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration to acknowledge those affected by residential schools and to educate Canadians.
It also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a movement that began on Sept. 30, 2013, when residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation opened up about her trauma caused by residential schools.
In a statement today, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations urged all Canadians to spend Sept. 30 reflecting on how to contribute to the healing path forward from the harms of the institutions of assimilation and genocide.
“Today, and every day, I stand in support of survivors and intergenerational trauma Survivors,” said RoseAnne Archibald. “I honour September 30 as a day of remembrance and grief.”
The Queen took note of the day.
“I join with all Canadians on this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to reflect on the painful history that Indigenous peoples endured in residential schools in Canada, and on the work that remains to heal and to continue to build an inclusive society,” Queen Elizabeth said in a statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the milestone day on Wednesday night, noting reconciliation doesn’t just mean understanding the mistakes of the past, but also looking at how those mistakes shape the country today.
Today, he elaborated in a statement.
“We must all learn about the history and legacy of residential schools. It’s only by facing these hard truths, and righting these wrongs, that we can move together forward together toward a more positive, fair and better future,” he said.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, in a statement, said more work needs to be done to address the devastating and harmful effects of residential schools, and reconciliation must be central to those efforts.
Mary Simon, Canada’s Governor-General, and the first Indigenous person to hold the office, is to participate in the one-hour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation broadcast special.
A statement from her office said it will air tonight at 8 p.m. on APTN, CBC, CBC Gem, ICI TÉLÉ and ICI TOU.TV.
Elsewhere, check here for continuing Globe and Mail updates on ceremonies and events marking this milestone day.
NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION - HEADLINES
MEMORIAL CEREMONY - The Cowessess First Nation are holding a memorial ceremony at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in their territory to honour the Indigenous children who died and those who survived there – one of several ceremonies planned across the country to mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. “We are going to gather, we are going to share, we are going to learn and we are going to walk forward in what we consider reconciliation,” says Chief Cadmus Delorme. Story here.
SURVEY MEASURES CANADA’S VIEW ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES - A new survey suggests that there is a growing awareness in Canada of the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples, and more willingness among Canadians to blame governments for the fact that First Nations continue to suffer inequality. Story here.
OTTAWA REJECTED FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW IN CASE INVOLVING FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN- Ottawa’s request for a judicial review of two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings concerning First Nations children has been rejected, a decision released on the eve of the first federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation that could leave the federal government liable for billions of dollars in compensation.
CANADA’S FIRST INDIGENOUS GG ON THE DAY - Governor-General Mary Simon had some very personal reflections Wednesday on the eve of Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, declaring in a statement that as the daughter of a white father and an Inuk mother she was not allowed to attend a residential school so stayed behind while other children were ripped away from their homes. Story here, from The Canadian Press.
AFN HEAD MAKES A POINT BY FISHING - On the west coast of Vancouver Island, RoseAnne Archibald fishes for salmon as part of a symbolic journey to highlight Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights and emphasize issues Ms. Archibald raised earlier in the month in Nova Scotia. “Both the West Coast and the East Coast [First Nations] are asking for the same thing – which is to have their inherent and treaty rights to their fishery honoured, implemented and respected by the federal government,” the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations told Wendy Stueck. Story here.
EXPLAINER - There’s an explainer here on how to show unity with Indigenous communities.
Reporter’s Comment Kristy Kirkup: “This inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is taking place at a very emotional time for the country and there is a more sustained amount of attention being paid to systemic racism and discrimination toward Indigenous people. The focus is not only on the historical impacts of residential schools, but the modern-day implications for this government-funded, church-run system. Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has talked about the fact that as time goes on, the country may be commemorating this day in a different way and that’s okay. He says it is extremely important for the survivors to be able to have this formal recognition and that everyone is in the process of learning. That was also sentiment picked up on Parliament Hill on Thursday by Elder Claudette Commanda , who was talking about the country being in a process of learning.”
NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION - THE DECIBEL
As Canada marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, The Globe and Mail podcast remembers its origin in Orange Shirt Day, and explores how to meaningfully measure progress toward reconciliation. Details here.
NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION OPINION
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on why a day of remembrance is good, but fixing the legacy of residential schools is better: “The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity to reflect on the past and acknowledge the harms done by the residential school system. It needs to be more than that, though. It needs to be a day that prompts all Canadians to start asking about the future, and why it’s taking so long to get here.”
Clayton Thomas-Müller (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada should commit to a Just Transition for Indigenous Peoples: “We need the rest of Canada to use the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and take a deep dive into a real healing process with Indigenous Peoples that is rooted in the idea of Land Back – returning land to Indigenous Peoples’ control – and the implementation of the 94 TRC recommendations, if we are going to achieve climate justice, peace and healing. A good start is a Just Transition Act that leaves no worker, First Nation or rural community behind. We need Trudeau and this government to hear us, work with us and act in a way this moment demands. We must learn from our past and prepare in the present to break the cycle and defend our collective future.”
Doug Anderson and Alexandra Flynn (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how municipalities must serve urban Indigenous Peoples in a mutually beneficial, respectful relationship: “Municipalities must acknowledge their obligations to Indigenous peoples by creating mutually beneficial, respectful relationships that recognize and endorse Indigenous rights and responsibilities. This is preferable to a one-sided consultative model where governments are the ultimate decision maker and merely consider the views of Indigenous peoples. Relationships can express themselves in many forms, but municipal governments must listen and learn from First Nations and Indigenous peoples, including their laws and governance practices.”
EARLY PRIORITIES FOR RE-ELECTED LIBERALS - Pushing ahead with contentious plans to overhaul Canada’s internet rules in areas like broadcasting, curbing online hate speech and requiring Google and Facebook to support Canadian news organizations are set to be early priorities for the re-elected Liberal government.
NUMBER OF FEMALE MPS FALLS BELOW 50-PER-CENT MARK - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged that he will once again create a cabinet with an equal number of men and women, but the number of female MPs in the House of Commons still falls well below the 50-per-cent mark. Story here.
KENNEY FACES LEADERSHIP REVIEW - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will face a leadership review during a newly scheduled United Conservative Party annual general meeting in April. This is earlier than the fall 2022 review that had originally been planned by the party. But it’s still not as early as some party members would like. Story here.
JUDGE CONSIDERS FORTIN CASE - A Federal Court judge is now considering whether to reinstate Major-General Dany Fortin as the head of Canada’s vaccine distribution campaign following two days of arguments between his lawyers and the government around who ultimately decided to remove the senior military officer from his high-profile post in May – and why.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
“Private meetings” according to an advisory from the Prime Minister’s Office.
No schedules released for federal leaders.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why Canada’s department of foreign affairs needs to become more permeable: “There is a general feeling within the government that foreign affairs, the foreign-policy shops in other departments, officials within the Privy Council Office and those in the Prime Minister’s Office collectively lack the numbers and depth to think through the big challenges facing Canada. This is why the American model is so much better. With each change of administration, the senior ranks of the federal public service in Washington are replaced by the new administration’s nominees. Yes, it’s cumbersome, partisan, time-consuming and wasteful. But, as I have written in the past, it also provides the United States with a more open government, and with a public-policy elite who shift between stints in government, universities, think tanks and corporations. Government benefits from that real-world experience.”
Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on how a Liberal plan to fiddle with CMHC mortgage insurance is risky for home buyers, taxpayers and the financial system: “Make no mistake, the Liberal Party’s proposals to fiddle with CMHC mortgage insurance are fraught with risk. Case in point: The Bank of Canada has indicated it could raise its trendsetting interest rate as soon as next year. Mr. Trudeau needs to turn over a new leaf and start thinking about how monetary policy affects the financial wherewithal of Canadians. He should have never floated such irresponsible housing policies during the election campaign. For the sake of all of us, let’s hope he breaks his word.”
John McCarthy (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on advice to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, from one hostage to another: “The two Michaels will need plenty of rest, I imagine, as well as space and calm. I was lucky enough to have the invaluable counsel of psychiatrists who were at the forefront of what was then a relatively new field, studying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They warned me that at times I might be overwhelmed by my new free life – by choices I had to make and the responsibilities I’d have to face. They also cautioned that I might find myself lost in a fog of memories of captivity – that sometimes I would want to talk and talk about my experiences, while at other times I’d want to shut down the subject and focus on other things. All this, they told me, was totally normal and I should try to remember that if I was getting stressed. Gradually, they said, it would pass – and they were right.”
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