Young Indigenous leaders speak on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at Senate

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OTTAWA - Dr. Meghan Beals says she wants Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to resemble Remembrance Day.

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OTTAWA – Dr. Meghan Beals says she wants Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to resemble Remembrance Day.

The Prince Edward Island physician is one of five young Indigenous leaders who were in Ottawa Monday to speak to a Senate committee ahead of the federal statutory holiday this Friday.

Beals told senators that the day should include a moment of silence to remember the past and feature events in communities across the country to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ contributions to Canada.

The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Dr. Meghan Beals says she wants Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to resemble Remembrance Day. CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

“That’s really how I would see Truth and Reconciliation Day, is having something that during that day, we have community events, ceremonial events,” she told senators.

She suggested that at 10 a.m., people could take a moment of silence “for the children who have been found, or for lost individuals.”

She said it would also be important for Indigenous communities to spend time on that day “celebrating our culture.”

After their testimony to the Senate’s Indigenous Peoples committee, the young leaders were expected to meet with senators who are examining the federal government’s responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Friday marks the anniversary of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, meant to honour victims and survivors of Canada’s residential schools system.

Federal public servants and people who work in federally regulated sectors will get the day off, but most provinces have not recognized the day as a statutory holiday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

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