Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, I want to take a few minutes to pay tribute to our colleague and friend Senator Sinclair.
An articulate and outspoken champion of Indigenous peoples, Senator Sinclair has broken down barriers for generations to come. His leadership and contributions as a lawyer, judge, commissioner and, more recently, as a senator, have left an indelible mark on our collective memory.
It has been a pleasure to work with him and learn from him over the past few years, and I will miss his brilliant mind, wonderful sense of humour and big heart. However, his retirement is well deserved. Senator Sinclair has given so much of himself to others, and it has not always been easy. The impact of the often-heartbreaking testimony given by survivors of the residential school system at the TRC is felt deeply in his soul and body. The time has come for him to devote himself to his family and other passions.
Colleagues, I am mindful that this is not a goodbye but, rather, a “see you later,” because our paths remain intertwined.
Senator Sinclair has played a critical role in educating the public about the true history of Canada and its relationship with, and treatment of, Indigenous peoples. In doing so, he has helped shape our shared journey of reconciliation.
Last December, during the fifth anniversary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Sinclair and the two other commissioners spoke about the overdue implementation of the Calls to Action. We were reminded then of our responsibility and obligation to move the path to reconciliation forward, not simply through words but, rather, concrete actions. This is a message we must all keep at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.
Senator Sinclair has also spoken about the role of education in reconciliation, once stating:
Residential schools were with us for 130 years, until 1996. Seven generations of children went to residential schools. It’s going to take generations to fix things.
There is indeed a long process of learning and unlearning that all Canadians and all governments must take part in. We, as parliamentarians, are not immune. We must challenge each other to be and do better so we can lead by example in our workplaces and communities. This would be, in my humble opinion, the best way to honour the tireless efforts of Senator Sinclair and others dedicated to advancing true and lasting reconciliation.
Senator Sinclair, on behalf of the entire Progressive Senate Group, I wish you the best in this new chapter. Thank you, wela’lin.