Speech on the occasion of Miyo-Wiciwitowin Day

September 29, 2022

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Before we begin, I want to send my deep condolences to the James Smith Cree Nation and all those mourning after the tragic events earlier this month. I visited the community yesterday and was inspired by their strength. Our thoughts are with them always.

Today, I want to look to our future, to be part of reconciliation’s promise. As governor general, as an honorary witness of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as an Indigenous person, as an Inuk,
I knew this was something I had to do.

This, right here, is reconciliation in action.

I want to acknowledge we are gathered on Treaty 4 territory, the traditional lands of the Cree, Ojibwe, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota and Lakota, as well as on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Together, we mark Miyo-wîcîwitowin Day.

All of you represent the principles of reconciliation, of getting along well with others, good relations and expanding the circle. It’s walking together on a long and continuous road.

And we all have a role to play.

Many of you are discovering the world around you. You’re learning about the hardships Indigenous peoples endured, and the wonderful, resilient spirit we possess.

You’re learning from Indigenous knowledge, values and contributions. You’re learning our history so you can do better, build a better country, for Indigenous peoples and for all Canadians.

Education is key to reconciliation. We must learn about each other, to reach out to different cultures, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. And it’s our shared responsibility to record and teach the true history of Canada. Keep building. Keep expanding the circle.

And we need to talk about what each of us can do for reconciliation, to lead with understanding and respect. Raise the issue with family and friends. As future leaders of Canada, have the difficult discussions, because if you don’t, who will?

That’s my hope for tomorrow.

Just consider how our relationships have changed over the years. How reconciliation has changed. When I was growing up, children were taken away to residential schools. And at the day school I attended, I was punished if I spoke my language.

Today, Indigenous children can go to school in their own communities. They can learn and speak their own language, whenever and wherever they want. And now, they have the opportunity to further their education— something I did not have when I was growing up.
I also see reconciliation in this city:

  • The Regina Open Door Society helps to build connections between new Canadians and Indigenous communities.
  • The University of Regina offers a Certificate in Reconciliation Studies.
  • Pro Metal Industries, an Indigenous-owned company, raises money to support Indigenous students through the Every Child Matters Feather Project.

Tomorrow, Canadians mark the second year of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Creating this national day was so important. It gives us all the opportunity to learn about residential schools, to learn about and from each other, to build relationships, to understand what reconciliation means and, more importantly, to put it into action.

Together, let’s engage with the diverse communities that make up our country to create a nation where all young people can take control of their destinies. Where they can be who they are, free from judgment.

That is my hope. That is what I work towards. I invite you to join me on this journey.

Thank you.