DM-A/CDS Message: Upcoming National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 27, 2021 - Defence Stories

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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.

Team,

This Thursday, September 30th is the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We encourage all of you to actively find ways to participate in the reconciliation process with open minds and hearts.

The impact of the Indian Residential School System, and the harm it has perpetuated, continues to affect the lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit from coast to coast to coast. Those harmed included many of our valued colleagues within National Defence and in the Canadian Armed Forces. We both support reconciliation on a national level and commit to continue working to strengthen equity, inclusion and well-being within our own Defence Team.

For those of us whose lived experiences didn’t directly expose us to the harm of the Residential School System or the intergenerational trauma it perpetuates, we might not know where to begin. We may also be afraid to say the wrong thing, or to cause more harm in the process of educating ourselves.

We all have to start somewhere. Everyone on our Defence Team will approach reconciliation differently—each of us starting from a different place of experience and appreciation. Reconciliation is not about shaming ignorance but actively working to bring about understanding through open, honest dialogue. You may also consider starting with some personal research. To help with that, we have provided some resources below. 

By acknowledging the harm caused by Residential Schools, we honour the memory of the lives and families shattered. We encourage you all to participate in educational and commemorative activities in your community—to take time to listen to the stories of survivors—to reflect in the manner best suited for you.

We encourage all Defence Team members to listen, to try to understand, and move forward together in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. And we can do so in the hopes that acknowledging and understanding our joint past means we can hope to look forward to a better future.

Jody Thomas
Deputy Minister of National Defence

General Wayne Eyre
Acting Chief of the Defence Staff

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