Reuters marks Canada’s first national holiday for Indigenous reunion

© Reuters Canada passes an exhibition at Hillcrest High School on Canada’s first National Truth and Reunion Day as a student honors lost children and survivors of indigenous residential schools in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, their families and communities.

Written by Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada on Thursday marked the first National Day of Truth and Reunion in honor of missing children and aboriginal school survivors, following the horrific discovery of more than a thousand unmarked graves graves-found-canadian-former-Residential-school-sites-2021-07-06 Two former schools earlier this year

The so-called boarding school The system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, is about 150,000 Indigenous children have been displaced from their families. In 2015, some of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a “cultural genocide” resulted in abuse, rape and malnutrition in their schools.

Run by the government and Christian churches – mostly Catholic – the school’s stated goal was to bring Indigenous children together. The government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a new federal holiday in June.

Governor-General Mary May Simon said, “I urge you to stop and reflect on the full history of Canada,” -reconciliation-2021-07-26

“Do it to honor an Indigenous child who has faced or witnessed cruel injustice. Many have been hurt, many are still suffering.”

The Queen sent a message saying she had joined Canadians to “reflect the painful history that Indigenous people endured in Canadian boarding schools and that work continues to heal and build an inclusive society.”

The discovery of the unmarked tomb reopened the deep wounds by Canada’s efforts to integrate European colonies and later indigenous cultures. Today, indigenous peoples are suffering from high levels of poverty and violence and low life expectancy.

“On this first National Day of Truth and Reunion, we reflect the lasting effects of the residential school,” Trudeau said Thursday on the occasion of the holiday at a ceremony held on the lawn in front of Parliament. “We remember the kids who never gave up at home.”

An event was held in front of Parliament on Thursday, and there were similar events across the country. Later, there will be one-hour national broadcasts on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and other channels, including stories and perspectives of victims in the residential school system.

Former Senator Murray Sinclair, who chairs the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said, “Embrace this new national day for truth and reconciliation to remove the influence of the untrue version of the long-presented history and to learn from the voices of indigenous peoples.”

Indigenous leaders say the day should also be recognized by the province, so that it is not limited to federal employees. Ontario, the most populous province, for example, does not recognize holidays and so schools, stock markets and most businesses are open.

“If the (Ontario) government fails to properly acknowledge the theft of our thousands of children, that’s part of the problem. They’re the problem,” Sol Mamaqua, the new Democrat in the Ontario legislature, told CBC.

Canada Day has been canceled in several cities and the government has instructed all federal buildings to fly half-mast flags from May.

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