Residential Schools National Monument

By: The Hon. Michèle Audette

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East and West block of Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Michèle Audette: [Editor’s Note: Senator Audette spoke in Innu-aimun.]

Honourable senators, before sharing something I experienced today, I’d like to thank Senator McCallum. Tshinashkumitin.

It was important for me to see you, to feel you and to listen to you this morning, along with other survivors and families who participated in this event.

Senator Patterson, you gave me your spot, so I will try to honour it.

First of all, I’d like to thank Senator Patterson for giving me this opportunity to tell you about the ceremony that many of us took part in this morning, where people came to show us the sacred site of a new monument that will remind us of part of Canada’s history. It’s part of a path of healing for many of us, including me.

It is also the subject of Call to Action No. 81 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states, and I quote:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools National Monument in the city of Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

It happened this morning to the sound of Inuit song, Métis fiddle and the words of a First Nations woman. It was powerful and moving. The committee to create this monument will be made up of people from different nations and territories and from the government, and it will reflect on how to honour these little children and the families affected by residential schools.

The beautiful thing about First Nations’ protocols is that we must ask the permission of the people to welcome us. The Anishinaabe people were present and welcomed us with a lot of love and respect. This beautiful monument that we will one day see will be located where parliamentarians enter the building, on the west side of the Hill. It will be where everyone can see it, whether they are tourists, parliamentarians or people who come just to pay their respects to and commune with our ancestors.

I will close with some of the words that I heard spoken by men and women today: This is for the children who thought we did not love them. Every day, they will see that we carry them with us in our hearts.


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