Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. This is not a time for celebration but rather a solemn occasion to remember, honour and mourn the lives lost and forever changed by residential schools and other forms of state violence that harmed and continue to harm Indigenous people.
The day also serves as an opportunity to meaningfully listen, learn and support survivors, as well as our families and communities.
It is not enough to wear an orange shirt. Canadians must gain a deeper understanding of our shared history and how they can contribute to a better future.
Yesterday, in advance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Committee on Indigenous Peoples heard from five remarkable Indigenous youth: Dr. Meghan Beals, Gabrielle Fayant, Taylor Behn-Tsakoza, Jama Maxie and Tyrone Sock. If you were unable to participate in this meeting, I strongly encourage you to watch the recording later this week.
The testimony we heard was profoundly moving and inspiring. If we want to make progress towards truth and reconciliation, Indigenous youth must remain at the forefront. As the fastest growing population in Canada, it is our responsibility and obligation to help them not just survive, but be healthy, safe and thriving. We have a lot of work to make this vision a reality and no more time to waste.
Honourable colleagues, before I conclude I want to take a moment to ask that you keep Epekwitnewaq, Islanders as well as the rest of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec in your thoughts and prayers. The devastation in the region due to Hurricane Fiona is simply indescribable. It will take weeks, if not months, to get back to a sense of normalcy. Wela’lin, thank you.