Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington.
Getting back to what I was just saying, I am a father of a 10-year-old Mi'kmaq boy and I think about all the joy that he brings into my life. I ask members to think about what it would be like, as a community, to have successive generations of children taken away. Imagine the apathy that would create. Imagine the heartbreak of having your children removed from your homes.
Colleagues, this is why it is important that we reflect on the TRC calls to action and why we need a national day to remember that terrible chapter in Canadian history. That is why we are here, to bring call to action number 80 to life and make September 30 the national day of truth and reconciliation.
The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said:
Reconciliation must become a way of life. It will take many years to repair damaged trust and relationships.... Reconciliation not only requires apologies, reparations, the relearning of Canada’s national history, and public commemoration, but also needs real social, political, and economic change. Ongoing public education and dialogue are essential to reconciliation. Governments, churches, educational institutions, and Canadians from all walks of life are responsible for taking action on reconciliation in concrete ways, working collaboratively with Aboriginal peoples. Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us.
This national day would honour the survivors of the painful legacy of residential schools, along with their families and communities. It would be a reminder to everyone in Canada to never forget the pain and trauma that residential schools caused and continue to cause, passed on as intergenerational trauma. It would create an opportunity for indigenous survivors of residential schools and their loved ones to tell their stories, and it would be an opportunity for the rest of us to learn carefully.
I firmly believe that the proposed national day of truth and reconciliation will be a way for us to amplify and strengthen the voices of first nations, Inuit and Métis people. It will be a way to ensure that the stories and experiences, the pain, the trauma and the history of first nations, Inuit and Métis people are never forgotten. It will be a way to keep these histories alive in our hearts and in our minds, so that they may inform our actions going forward. With this, we may build a brighter future based on a renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-to-Crown relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
It is important to emphasize that this day should be utilized like Remembrance Day, as an opportunity to educate all Canadian children across Canada on this vital and tragic part of our history, should this legislation become law.
I would like to quote Senator Murray Sinclair, who stated, “While Indigenous children were being mistreated in residential schools by being told they were heathens, savages and pagans and inferior people—that same message was being delivered in the public schools of this country.” We need to change that. We need to see real funding and material support allocated to heritage, so that we can provide educational materials and tangible supports to school boards across Canada in telling these stories and this part of our shared history.
This is of fundamental importance to schools across the country. I remember, in December of 2015, when they talked about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and it was launched. I remember our Prime Minister telling a story of when he went to school. When it was time to discuss indigenous history, it was skipped over by the teacher saying, it was not very interesting. That day, our Prime Minister made a vow that never again will indigenous history be skipped over and never again will indigenous Canadians be told that their history is not integral to Canadian history. With the passage of the bill, we help ensure that people will never ask why they were never taught this in our schools.
I always used to talk in my treaty education presentations about the rice experiment by Dr. Emoto. There were two jars of water and rice. One jar was fed nothing but positive energy, saying, “You're great. You're good. You're good rice,” whatever they tell water and rice in an experiment. The other jar of water and rice was fed nothing but negativity, saying “You're worthless. You'll never amount to anything.” After seven weeks of this experiment, they noticed that the water and rice that was fed negativity began to mould and go bad.
If this is what seven weeks can do to water and rice, imagine what seven generations can do to an entire people when they are told they are worthless and inferior. This is what indigenous people in the country have had to deal with.
The failures of one generation can be the opportunities of the next. With this bill, with education, with awareness, this is where we could be in the future.