Canada’s federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister capped an incredibly busy summer with an emotional moment at the end of August when the feds finally raised a Survivors’ Flag on Parliament Hill to honour those who lived through the horrors of Residential Schools.
The flag was raised as a way to keep federal officials keenly aware of the colonial policies of the country’s past, Miller said, and was an emotional event that brought the summer –in which he travelled coast to coast looking after issues nationwide – to an end.
“Our government acknowledges the painful impacts of well over 150 years of colonization and broken trust. Much of our work together with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities is aimed at advancing our shared goals and priorities, including implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action,” Miller said. “While much progress was made this summer, we know that there is a lot of work to be done. Part of this work resides in our pursuit of the truth, as painful as it is, and in our commitment to listening to Indigenous Peoples about their needs for change – for a better Canada, more inclusive and aware of Indigenous realities, for all generations.”
Miller was seemingly everywhere this summer, with stops in B.C., northern Quebec, Nunavut, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and finishing in Ottawa with the raising of the Survivors’ Flag.
Miler was also on hand for the visit from Pope Francis and the Pope’s apology to Indigenous Peoples in Canada for the Catholic Church’s role in the horrors of Residential Schools.
“In Alberta and Nunavut, I was able to stand with Survivors and Indigenous leaders during this important moment in addressing some of our country’s most tragic and painful truths, and in supporting the healing process for many Indigenous Peoples and communities across Canada. I offered tobacco to the sacred fire at the site of the former Edmonton Residential School, as well as visited the grounds of the former St. Albert Residential School,” Miler said, adding that mere days after the Pope’s visit, he was able to spend even more time with Residential School Survivors.
“I visited the site of the former Regina Industrial Residential School, where I greeted Association members and decedents of former student Ernest Goforth. I was given the opportunity to learn how the Survivors, families, and communities are working to honour the students that did not return home from this school,” Miller said.
He then moved on to formally apologize to a Saskatchewan Cree nation for the government’s role in a scheme that saw land systematically taken from Peepeekisis community members and given to displaced grads of a nearby Residential School who were not members of the Peepeekisis nation, in the hopes those grads would establish a Christian colony.
“The following day, I offered a formal apology on behalf of Canada to Chief Francis Dieter and community members of Peepeekisis Cree Nation for the harm, trauma, and significant loss in land, culture, and language experienced due to Canada’s role in the File Hills Colony Scheme,” Miller added.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase