OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised a flag on Parliament Hill this morning to honour Indigenous people who were forced to attend residential schools.
He said the Survivors’ Flag also serves as a daily reminder that some children never returned home from the schools.
Trudeau added that reconciliation is the responsibility of all Canadians.
The prime minister spoke in front of a crowd that included residential school survivors from around the country, telling them the church-operated, government-funded institutions were based on terribly wrong beliefs and understanding.
Andrew Carrier, a Catholic day school survivor who now sits on the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s Governing Circle, said it is important for Indigenous and Métis people to be proud of their language and culture.
He encouraged all Canadians to reflect on the history of residential schools that operated for more than a century in Canada.
Carrier, a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation, said the flag-raising signifies the ongoing commitment of survivors to expose the truth about what happened in the system.
He said that truth is igniting a change in the minds of Canadians.
“It is also a reminder that a great deal of work remains on this journey of reconciliation,” he said.
“My hope is for us to continue to walk this path together in harmony. That’s a bumpy path for sure, but we must try for the name of all our children.”
Trudeau said there is much more work to do.
“While residential schools were trying to teach Indigenous peoples that their language had no value, that their cultures had no value, that their identity had no value, every other school in Canada was teaching non-Indigenous kids the same way, that Indigenous languages culture, people have no value,” he said.
“We all have work to do in our hearts and in our systems.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2023.
The Canadian Press