QUEEN'S PARK – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa, NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, will mark Thursday’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day with solemn reflection of Canada's shameful mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples, and commemoration of the thousands of Indigenous children who never came home from Canada's Indian Residential Schools.
"Tomorrow, Canadians and Ontarians will come together in grieving the over 1,300 stolen Indigenous children who never made it home from Canada's residential school system," Horwath said.
"These were precious children that Canada made it a policy to forcibly steal from their families and communities, who suffered violence, physical and sexual abuse and malnutrition. We acknowledge the fresh pain and trauma of discovering the graves of more than 1,300 Indigenous children this past year, and yet we know that for First Nations communities, these stolen children were never a secret. These graves belong to the babies who never got to grow up, the precious brothers, sisters, and cousins whose families never stopped searching for them.
“All First Nations people living in Ontario today are directly impacted by the residential school system and must live with the intergenerational trauma of surviving Canada's tools of genocide.
“This year and every year, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation must be an opportunity to move beyond words to action. A day for governments of all levels to make commitments to ensure justice, equity and dignity for Indigenous people. That includes fixing the broken child welfare system, ensuring all communities have access to clean drinking water and equitable access to health care and education. That means governments at all levels taking action to move back towards the path of reconciliation — a path Canada has long since walked away from."
Horwath, Mamakwa and the NDP have been urging the Ford government to make Sept. 30 a province-wide statutory day dedicated to public events of mourning, reflection and education. The NDP has made the day a day off for its staff and operations.
"We must make Sept. 30 not only a day to mark on social media, but a statutory day away from work for all Ontarians," Mamakwa said. "It should be a day to gather for traditional ceremonies, to hold powwows, and to invite non-Indigenous people to learn and to grow — especially young people. It should be a day that grows in scope and meaning until everyone living on this land knows the legacy of residential schools, and holds in their hearts a desire to revive reconciliation.
“I believe most Ontarians want to be on the right side of history. I believe the time for change is now.”
“Premier Doug Ford and Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford have refused to make Sept. 30 a province-wide statutory day. This is a mistake. This is how reconciliation gets moved to the backburner by governments. I don’t believe this would even be a debate if the graves discovered belonged to stolen non-Indigenous children.”