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Statement from the Survivors Circle regarding Bill C-5

 

It is the collective responsibility of all Canadians to implement the 94 Calls to Action for true Reconciliation.

We call upon all political parties to support Bill C-5, otherwise known as Call to Action #80 concerning a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day will recognize and honour the Survivors and their families, and remember the children who never returned home from the residential school system.

There are five known national days of significance observed by Indigenous people in Canada (National Indigenous Peoples Day, Indigenous Veterans Day, Louis Riel Day, International Inuit Day and Orange Shirt Day); however, none are recognized as a statutory holiday. In contrast, Canada’s current statutory holidays are colonial in nature.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged and apologized for the racist policies and systems that separated more than 150,000 children from their families and communities. The apology envisioned a new relationship based on a shared history and a stronger Canada. This is now an opportunity to put those words into action.

“As Survivors, we have far fewer tomorrows than we have yesterdays,” says Survivor Eugene Arcand, “So, the significance of this day goes way beyond a day off from school or work. It is about all Canadians solemnly recognizing the harms inflicted on Indigenous families and innocent children through the residential school system. With the little time we have left, we wish to lend our voices to ensuring racism and colonial attitudes have no place in Canada’s future.”

There are far fewer Survivors remaining since Canada’s apology and opportunities to listen and learn from their experiences first-hand are diminishing. Support for Bill C-5 is not only critical to ensuring Survivors are active participants in this day, but it is also for generations 100 years from now, where education and remembrance will grow into the public consciousness of all Canadians.

Bill C-5 is currently at the third reading in the House of Commons. It could complete all the stages in the parliamentary process in less than a week with cooperation and coordination from the parliamentarians in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action are not political. They were developed for all Canadians to work toward and implement: to correct the wrongs and set the country on a good journey towards Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Please support Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation).

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“Ka-kí-kiskéyihtétan óma, namoya kinwés maka aciyowés pohko óma óta ka-hayayak wasétam askihk, ékwa ka-kakwéy miskétan kiskéyihtamowin, iyinísiwin, kistéyitowin, mina nánisitotatowin kakiya ayisiniwak, ékosi óma kakiya ka-wahkotowak.”

Cree Proverb