‘We don’t want your pity’: Preparations underway for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is about a month away and things are gearing up for a significant commemorative event in the nation’s capital and across the country.

The Trudeau government is investing $4 million in 278 community projects as part of National Truth and Reconciliation Week beginning Sept. 26.

Part of this funding will also go to the Ottawa event on Sept. 30 and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) education week for Canadian students in Grades 1-12.

“This year our focus is remembering the children,” said Stephanie Scott, executive director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

“The children who were taken from their families and subjected to cruel abuse in an effort to repress the culture and traditions of Indigenous peoples.”

Eugene Arcand is a Muskeg Lake Cree Nation member who attended residential school in Saskatchewan.

Truth and Reconciliation

He also sat on the TRC’s Indian Residential School Survivor Committee.

Arcand spoke about what residential school survivors expect from the non-Indigenous community.

“We want you to know who we are – know our names, know our numbers,” he told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa. “And we don’t want your pity.

“Don’t think for a second that we do what we do because we want people to feel sorry for us. Those days are done. We want real reality. We want to share these truths with adults, but more importantly with young people because that is who is going to change this country.”

Levinia Brown is an Inuk who was the first female mayor of Rankin Inlet and a former deputy premier of Nunavut.

She is also a residential school survivor who talked about how the system tried to erase her language and culture but was unsuccessful.

Kept my language

“I kept my language, from our grandparents,” Brown said. “Our grandparents, our ancestors, were our strong tools to survive our culture. Yes, I speak my language.”

Aside from announcing the federal government’s funding commitment for TRC events, Ottawa-Centre Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi described how he sees his role in reconciliation.

“I’m an immigrant to this country and therefore I am a settler,” he said “And it’s my responsibility to continue to learn about a tragic past. And participate in not only learning but teaching my two young children as well.”

The Sept. 30 event from Ottawa will be broadcast live on APTN.

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