Canada grieves horrors
OTTAWA: Canada on Thursday commemorated a century of injustices against its indigenous populations in the first ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, following shocking discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former indigenous residential schools.
“It is a day to reflect. It is a day to honour. It is a day to grieve. It is a day to mourn. It is a day to shed tears,” Algonquin elder Claudette Commanda told a ceremony in front of parliament attended by thousands.
Gatherings and marches were also held in communities across Canada.
The occasion had been observed unofficially as Orange Shirt Day since 2013 to promote awareness of what a truth and reconciliation commission branded “cultural genocide” of Canada’s indigenous peoples.
The government elevated the day to a statutory holiday this year after the discovery of more than 1200 unmarked graves at several former indigenous residential schools since May.
“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,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.