Remember the Children – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2023

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I am thankful for the welcome and teachings the Elders of this unceded territory are sharing with us today, and every time we gather on these lands. Thank you.

I’m grateful to be here with all of you to mark the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day of reflection and action.

What stories do we want to tell our children?

There is, of course, the history of Canada as told for the longest time, of explorers and discoveries,
of taming a wild land,
of settlements and Confederation.

But as time has passed, we have come to realize as a country that this version of history isn’t complete. Canada’s history is so much more than that. It should reflect other histories—other perspectives.

Certainly our national history needs to reflect the challenges, trauma, joys, experiences, knowledge and culture of Indigenous peoples and lives.

For years, Indigenous peoples have been telling those stories in their words but nobody was listening. I am here to tell you today, Canada is listening to those stories now. And as you know, some of those stories have been devastating.

We are gathered today to remember those stories—the stories of children taken from their homes. The stories of the children represented in the shoes we see today on stage.

…Every shoe here honours the Survivors of residential schools;

…Every shoe here commemorates the children who never made it home.

I often get asked to define reconciliation.

Reconciliation is a way of seeing and living life. It is about being intentional in how we interact with one another—how we show respect. Reconciliation is a shared responsibility between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

I see the potential of reconciliation in so many things, in both small gestures and large public acts. Reconciliation will thrive if we nurture it, in our workplaces and our homes. It will thrive if taught in our schools and our public offices.

Just yesterday, I hosted an event for students at Rideau Hall, where a wonderful Indigenous artist, Meryl McMaster, showed them how to use art to learn more about the full history of our country and to share their hopes for a world where every child matters.

Reconciliation is hope...

…Hope that we are building together a future that is free from harm, prejudices, exclusion and violence—everything that has marked the lives of Indigenous peoples for centuries.

On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, let us all go forward with hope. Let us go forward with the children in our hearts and minds. Let us support the families. Let us build a country and a history that brings us together. And let us walk this journey of reconciliation together, one step at a time.

Thank you.