KIIWETINOONG —Sol Mamakwa, NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, released the following statement and video message ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30:
“As the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is upon us, we must reflect deeply on why this day is important, and how it brings us together. We must acknowledge that our history together since contact has not always been good, and that its long shadow is felt in our present. And so, the present dictates that we must come together in a good way, in the spirit of truth and ‘reconciliation.’
Reconciliation can be an act of performance, or it can be the product of reflecting on the past, healing and making right. We cannot have reconciliation without truth. For many years, Indian Residential School survivors spoke of their firsthand experience of the abuse inflicted upon them, where many children were killed and buried in unmarked graves. The reality is that most Canadians did not accept this as truth, and it wasn’t until our children’s remains were unearthed by the hundreds, and then thousands, that the truth could not be ignored.
As we journey together on this land we now call Canada, we must never forget the former students — the survivors — of the Indian Residential Schools system. While we engage in actions, events and conversations centred on reconciliation, we must never leave anyone behind. There are survivors who still carry the unforgettable scars, burdens, and the unforgiving trauma from their lived experiences.
I cannot overstate the impact colonial oppression continues to have even today – the intergenerational and transgenerational effects of trauma on Indigenous Peoples and nations is real, and still far too visible. On this day, let’s think of all those who continue to suffer from the lasting effects of the legacy. Reach out to them, and re-assure them that they have not been forgotten.
We need to understand the past in order to build a better present, and stronger future, together. On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I encourage people to participate in public events of mourning, reflection and education. And I continue to ask the government of Ontario to recognize Sept. 30 as a statutory day off so everyone is able to observe this solemn occasion.
As Canadians and Ontarians, we all play a role in reconciliation. If we can approach people with understanding rather than judgement, break down the structures of oppression, and heal together, reconciliation is possible.”