Acting Commander Canadian Army marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 28, 2021 - Defence Stories

Major-General Michel-Henri St-Louis, Acting Commander Canadian Army, issued the following statement to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

This statement deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse or intergenerational trauma. We recognize some people may not want to read further to minimize the risk of being triggered.

Greetings, Aaniin, Boozhoo, Kwe Kwe.

As Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples, I somberly join with all my colleagues in the Department, military and civilian, in acknowledging September 30, the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day.

It is a day to reflect on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples affected by the Indian Residential School System. The discoveries of unmarked children’s graves on the sites of former Indian Residential Schools earlier this year were a shock to Canadians. However, throughout the years this system was in place, the Indigenous community was painfully aware of its realities: that children were forcibly separated from their families and not allowed to acknowledge their Indigenous cultures or to speak their own languages. Indigenous Peoples knew that many of the children taken away never returned home, and those who did carried emotional and physical scars.

The unearthing of these graves brought national attention to those stories and shone light on a piece of heartbreaking history. We now have the profound responsibility of ensuring these children are never forgotten. The Defence Team is encouraged to be part of commemorating those who came home, and those who did not, by attending events in their communities, as well as learning and reflecting on the issue. Military members are encouraged to wear orange today so that they may fully participate in our national conversation on truth and reconciliation.

I want to thank our Indigenous Defence Team partners. They not only make valuable contributions to our day-to-day business, but many also volunteer their time in advisory roles, such as our Defence Aboriginal Advisory Groups. They bring vital perspectives to our decision-making, identify systemic barriers, and advocate for individual members affected by them.

On September 30, we pause to reflect. The next day, and beyond, we commit to action to achieve a better tomorrow.

Major-General Michel-Henri St-Louis
Acting Commander Canadian Army
Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples

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