Indigenous Survivors

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that I am speaking from the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people.

Today I am honoured to welcome members of the Governing Circle and Survivors Circle of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

They are accompanied by Stephanie Scott, Executive Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and other staff.

In honour of their visit, this National Indigenous History Month I want to pay tribute to the significant contributions that First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and, specifically, survivors of the Indian Residential Schools and Indian Day Schools have made and continue to make to Canada.

These individuals are not only a testament to the enduring strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples, but have also inspired hope and change for current and future generations. Each of them has endured many hardships and is deserving of our respect, care and gratitude.

It is due to their courage and determination to speak about their experiences and their relentless pursuit for justice and healing that this country has begun to reckon with its past and present treatment of Indigenous peoples. They deserve our respect, gratitude and protection.

While Indigenous people have long been aware that many of our children died at residential schools or associated sites, announcements made since 2021 about several potential unmarked burials across the country have brought renewed attention to these tragedies.

Today, survivors, their families and communities are working actively to preserve and share the truth of what happened at these institutions. They are also leading search-and-recovery efforts to help bring respect, honour and dignity to the children who never returned home.

Colleagues, we must ensure that those who are undertaking this difficult work receive sustained and adequate funding and other supports from the federal government.

Colleagues, this month and throughout the entire year, I invite you to listen and learn from Indigenous survivors, including those in attendance today. I call on you to support them and their families and communities, not just with words but with actions. Let’s work together to acknowledge the past, confront the present and improve the future.

Lastly, I would like to express my thanks to the Canadian Senators Group, who offered me this time to make my statement.

Wela’lin. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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