Canada’s prime minister says it is the country’s responsibility to confront the legacy of residential schools and the ongoing impacts on Indigenous Peoples.
In a statement honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Justin Trudeau says Canadians all have a role to play on the journey toward reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is not the responsibility of Indigenous Peoples – it is the responsibility of all Canadians. It is our responsibility to continue to listen and to learn,” said Trudeau.
The federal government voted unanimously in 2021 to establish Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day.
Around 150,000 Indigenous children were taken away from their families to attend residential schools, being forced to abandon their languages, cultures, spiritualities, traditions and identities.
Trudeau said many children experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and thousands were killed.
“The experiences and intergenerational trauma of these so-called schools continue to live on for Indigenous Peoples across the country every single day,” he said.
The residential school system, administered by the federal government, the Catholic Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada, operated from 1831 to 1998.
During the summer, Pope Francis apologized to survivors and their families for the Catholic Church’s abusive role in the residential school system.
Trudeau said the apology was a step forward.
“We will continue to be there to support the painful but necessary work to locate unmarked graves, and to support survivors as they tell their stories,” said Trudeau.