National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Mr. Speaker,

On September 30, several Ministers and I attended the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events in Iqaluit organized by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. I rise today to honour the children who were taken and placed in Canada’s numerous Residential Schools, as well as their families and communities.

Here in the capital, and across the territory, we now officially observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This government passed legislation in 2022 to ensure September 30 receives equal weight with other designated statutory days.

Mr. Speaker, before the Canadian government moved to declare National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we knew it as Orange Shirt Day. It’s important to remember, and recognize the courage demonstrated by survivors. Now, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people continue to wear orange shirts on September 30. 

Phyllis Webstad laid the foundation for this day of commemoration. She is a First Nations Indian Residential School survivor.  Her orange shirt was a gift from her grandmother, which was taken from her on her first day of school. The orange shirt signifies, among other things, tremendous loss.

In Webstad’s words, “When you wear an orange shirt, it’s like a little bit of justice for us survivors in our lifetime — and recognition of a system we can never allow again.”

The more people know what happened in Residential Schools and beyond, the more we can guard against history repeating.

Orange shirts also say: Every child matters. Mr. Speaker, gathering with others, young and old, as we did again this September 30, reminds our children they matter.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.