Bill C-5—Consideration of Subject Matter in Committee of the Whole—Senator Bovey

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Senator Bovey: Thank you, Minister Guilbeault, for being with us today to discuss this important bill, one I support wholeheartedly.

“There is no reconciliation without the truth.” Those are the words of former senator and Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair the Honourable Murray Sinclair. He has also been widely quoted as saying that, “Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.”

I believe Canada’s art galleries and museums can and ought to be leaders in educating the truth about residential schools. September 30 could be a special day of commemorative programming.

Do you think Bill C-5 will enable all Canadians to understand both the horrors of residential schools and the ongoing depth and pain for survivors and all the Indigenous peoples of Canada and help in real, ongoing reconciliation?

Mr. Guilbeault: Thank you, Senator Bovey, very much for your question. Obviously — and this is an understatement — Bill C-5 will not solve everything when it comes to reconciliation, but it is an additional and important step towards it.

Orange Shirt Day has been commemorated for many years now, on September 30. It is a pre-eminent example of an unofficial commemorative day. On that day, Canadians are encouraged to wear an orange shirt to honour the children who survived residential schools and to remember those who did not.

As I said earlier, this day relates to Phyllis Webstad’s experience, but it has become a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. As I said, Budget 2021 commits $7 million over two years, but furthermore, it provides $13.4 million over five years for events to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools and to honour survivors, their families and communities.

As Minister of Heritage, I certainly want to engage all parts of the arts and culture community in Canada. Certainly you would know better than most of us in this room how art can be a powerful tool to communicate, change and engage. In fact, many artists and museums have already started — I can think of an exhibit that was recently in Winnipeg’s art gallery. There are so many different examples of the arts and culture community already doing this. If the federal government can lend a hand and support more of those initiatives across the country, we will certainly be there to make that happen.

Senator Bovey: I would hope that helping Indigenous curators to get into the field and move up will certainly help those stories become reality.

Mr. Guilbeault: I entirely agree with you.

Senator Bovey: Thank you, minister.

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