Dakota Kochi is the former Chief of Staff of the House of First Nations and the current Director of Government and External Relations at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a new federal statutory holiday on September 30 – could not have come at a more urgent time as Canada works to reconcile indigenous peoples.
This past year, with the latest findings of unmarked graves in residential schools across Canada, Canadians have had to contend with an uneasy conflict between what Canadians think and what Indigenous people know in these so-called schools. Indigenous children were forcibly evicted from their homes, sexually assaulted, beaten, not allowed to speak their language and faced many other forms of abuse. They also produced deaths: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) conservative estimate of total deaths was more than 4,100 children.
While we will probably never know the full extent of the details of the many horrific children encountered in these schools, the work TRC has done to discover the truth and recommend what Canada needs to do goes further. No need to watch. True meeting. After six years and thousands of testimonials by indigenous peoples, the TRC released its final report in 2015. One of its 94 calls to action, specifically number 80, called on the federal government to establish “a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to Honor Survivors”. , their families and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and heritage of residential schools remains an important component of the reconciliation process.
The holiday that follows this call should be a day to speak the truth so that Canadians can continue to reconcile our shared dark history. The truth of abuse, death, humiliation and lost childhood. the fact that Canadians had better chance The fight for survival in World War II compared to children attending a residential school in Canada. These are many of the reasons we as Canadians give to the survivors of this one-day residential school. The truth must come out before reconciliation.
I was fortunate to be part of a core group of people who pushed the House of Commons behind the scenes to pass Bill C-5, which established the holiday. I am deeply grateful to the leadership of Ministers Pablo Rodriguez, Melanie Jolie and Steven Guillebault for their support of this important call to action in Parliament. But there’s someone else to whom all thanks in the world should go: Phyllis Webstad.
If you don’t know who Phyllis is, you should take a break to read about her decades of work and advocacy on behalf of residential school survivors. She is the founder of Orange Shirt Day, which is held on 30 September every year since 2013. Orange Shirt Day was established to commemorate the many loss and abuse experienced by residential school survivors, including their own.
At the age of six, Phyllis was to attend St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School, and in anticipation, like any other child, went to buy new school clothes. She was excited to buy a new orange shirt for school! But once she came to school, all the students were stripped of their clothes. He and the other kids were heartbroken. Even on the first day of school, young children were humiliated and forced to assimilate at the hands of Roman Catholic missionaries. Imagine you’re away from family and a six-year-old has to deal with it all alone.
I remember having a conversation with the federal government about what day the new statutory holiday should fall on. The government was torn between June 21 on National Indigenous Day or September 30 on Orange Shirt Day. After several talks between the federal government, Indigenous leaders and Ms Webstead, it was determined that it would not take place on 21 June. That date is a celebration of the successes and culture of the indigenous people, which is not the intended purpose for the holiday. I am grateful that the Liberal government listened to the survivors of residential schools.
As a proud Anishinaabe man from Pinaymootang First Nation, I’m urging Canadians to take an hour on vacation to learn about residential schools, support Indigenous organizations that are advocating for change, Be an ally by donating your time and resources to Swadeshi-led causes. . Most important: Committed to holding our governments accountable on their promises of reconciliation. Reconciliation won’t happen overnight, but your support and actions mean the world to the more than 1.7 million Indigenous people in Canada.
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