As Canadians mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Queen says she will also be taking time to reflect on Canada’s past.
Queen Elizabeth released a statement Thursday acknowledging “the work that remains to heal and to continue to build an inclusive society.”
“I join with all Canadians on this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to reflect on the painful history that Indigenous peoples endured in residential schools in Canada,” the Queen’s statement said.
The day was made a federal statutory holiday earlier this year, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended in its 94 calls to action. It will be held annually on Sept. 30.
It honours the children who died while attending residential schools and the survivors, families and communities still affected by the system’s legacy.
A ceremony is being held on Parliament Hill at 10 a.m. to mark the day.
WATCH | CBC coverage of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
CBC coverage of the National Day for Truth and ReconciliationA ceremony is being held on Parliament Hill to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 0:00
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also released a statement encouraging Canadians to reflect on the impacts and legacy of residential schools, specifically pointing to the hundreds of unmarked graves near former school sites that have been discovered this year.
“The tragic locating of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country has reminded us of not only the impacts of colonialism and the harsh realities of our collective past, but also the work that is paramount to advancing reconciliation in Canada,” the statement said.
Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon, the first Indigenous person to sit in that role, said today is an opportunity for Canadians to face “uncomfortable truths.”
“As we strive to acknowledge the horrors of the past, the suffering inflicted on Indigenous peoples, let us all stand side-by-side with grace and humility, and work together to build a better future for all,” she said in a statement.
Sept. 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, which remembers the story of Phyllis Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at residential school.
Across the country, people are encouraged to wear orange to spread awareness, support an Indigenous-run business or organization if they can, and take time to learn and reflect.