FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2023
We recognize this news release may contain information that is difficult for many. For immediate emotional support, Survivors and their families are encouraged to contact the National Residential Schools Crisis Line for immediate emotional and referral support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free at 1-866-925-4419.
The Hope for Wellness Helpline is also available to all Indigenous people across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent counsellors are reachable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-855-242-3310 or via online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca. This service is available 24/7 in English and French and upon request in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut.
Survivors’ Flag changed and re-raised on Parliament Hill to commemorate June 21st and honour residential school Survivors
OTTAWA – Today, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada joined residential school Survivors and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) to change the Survivors’ Flag on Parliament Hill. Now in its second year, the Survivors’ Flag is being changed and re-raised to commemorate and celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day. They were joined at this event by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
This commemorative flag was created by Survivors to honour all Survivors, families, and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada, and to share their expression of remembrance across the nation. The flag was developed through consultation and collaboration with Inuit, Mi’kmaq, Atikamekw, Cree, Ojibway, Dakota, Mohawk, Dene, Nuu-chah-nulth, Secwepemc, and Métis Nation Survivors.
The Survivors’ Flag was first raised on Parliament Hill in September 2021 at a special ceremony to mark the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Today’s event featured residential school Survivors sharing the truths of their experiences on an especially meaningful day – the first day of the summer solstice is a culturally and spiritually significant time for Indigenous peoples and communities, with many celebratory events taking place from coast to coast to coast. As part of the ceremony, each Survivor was presented with a Survivors’ Flag that has previously been flown on Parliament Hill.
Raising the Survivors’ Flag is a symbol of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and an ongoing act of remembering and honouring the lives both lost and impacted by the residential school system, and the Government of Canada has committed to ensuring that the Survivors’ Flag will remain flying on Parliament Hill until 2024 when a decision is made about its permanent home.
“Today’s ceremony, on the unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinabeg territory, is very important to the Algonquin people, and all residential school Survivors. There is much work to be done in this path to reconciliation, however the re-raising of the Survivor flag is a vital collaborative step to continue to walk that path.”
– Elder Claudette Commanda
“This flag represents the strength and courage of Survivors who shared their stories and experiences to make sure the past is never repeated. I’m proud to be here today representing First Nation Survivors and communities as we move forward in our healing journeys.”
– Laurie McDonald, Survivor
“As the Survivor flag flies once again over Parliament Hill, it is a reminder of what Indigenous people, including the Inuit, went through at residential schools. The flag represents a lesson in history for all the Canadians and visitors who come here.”
– Navalik Tologanak, Survivor
“The re-raising of the Survivor flag is a symbolic act that not only recognizes the importance of our voices, but is also an opportunity to educate everyone on the history of residential schools and the children who didn’t come home.”
– Andrew Carrier, Survivor
“There is no better day than National Indigenous Peoples Day to honour residential school Survivors and their truths by re-raising the Survivors Flag on Parliament Hill. We remain committed to sharing and amplifying their stories and experiences, not only across the country, but throughout the world so they are never forgotten.”
– Stephanie Scott, Executive Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
“Today, and every day, we remember and honour Survivors and all the lives impacted by the residential school system. We listen to the stories of those who were there and we recommit to supporting them on the healing journey. The Survivors’ Flag is a reminder of the shameful reality of these so-called schools, which have caused so much pain and lasting trauma for Indigenous communities. It’s a reminder of the children who never returned home. As we change the Flag today, we continue to remember the children, to honour the Survivors, and to tell the truth about our past, as we work toward a better future.”
– Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted by the University of Manitoba was created to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy, not just for a few years, but forever. It is the responsibility of the NCTR to steward and share the truths of Survivors’ experiences in a respectful way and to work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, researchers, communities, decision-makers and the general public to support the ongoing work of truth, reconciliation and healing across Canada and beyond.