An historic and difficult day for Canada
I was honoured to be present at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse with many other members of our community to hear the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Tuesday, June 2nd. The atmosphere in the room reflected what is best about Yukon today – everyone gathered there was respectful, supportive, compassionate and, above all, ready to listen. I was especially appreciative of the presence of a number of residential school survivors, who demonstrated grace and strength under such challenging circumstances.
This is an important and difficult time for all Canadians as we receive the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The report has taken many years to compile and represents the difficult work on the part of witnesses of revealing deeply personal and painful stories.
As Canadians, it is important that we fully come to terms with the magnitude of the effects that residential schools had upon individual Aboriginal Canadians and upon the Aboriginal community as a whole. There is no question that the schools aimed to erase First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultural and linguistic identity.
The effects were not only devastating to the individual children taken for schooling, but also to their parents and communities. But the effects did not end there. The schools have left deep and profound scarring and their legacy has reverberated through generations.
We are thankful to those survivors – including many Yukoners – who, at risk to their own psychological and spiritual well-being, offered their statements and stories to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
For now, our focus must be on listening to what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has to say, on behalf of the many witnesses who told their stories to help Canadians understand that part of our shared history.
Our government will thoroughly review the report and its recommendations. After that has been done, we’ll determine with our First Nation partners what further action would be required of governments.
I encourage all Yukoners to read and take the time to understand the commission’s report and to reflect upon its meaning.