Like so many Canadians, I spent the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30 – reflecting on the past history of Residential Schools in Canada.
I heard of the damage that a Residential School system, designed to erase a rich and beautiful culture of First Nations people, inflicted on children. I heard of the pain that is being suffered to this day by people in First Nations communities across our country as a result of systemic racism and the Residential School system. I heard that a place where there are unmarked mass graves for children should never be referred to as a “school” – schools are a place of learning and growing not a place of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and death.
I also heard how so many of us Canadians will commit ourselves to do better and to ensure we tell the stories we had the honour to hear today.
I spent the day hearing a number of different stories from Residential School and 60s Scoop survivors. I have personally been on a path of learning and reconciliation and I have learned a lot, but I need to learn more and I encourage us all to do the same.
One of many things Residential School survivor and member of Six Nations, Dawn Hill said in her excellent talk to Richmond Hill on September 30th is that there are many Indigenous people willing to speak and share their experiences – we need to be prepared to listen!
Orange Shirt Day is a good time to reflect but we have a long way to go as a country to reconcile with First Nations communities and it’s clear Canadians want this work to begin in earnest.