OTTAWA — Governor General Mary May Simon has some very personal reflections on the eve of Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
As the daughter of a white father and Inuk mother, May Simon says in a statement that she was not made to attend a residential school.
She stayed behind and was home-schooled while other children were ripped away from their homes, separated from their families and sent to residential schools where they were not allowed to speak an Indigenous language or honour their culture.
May Simon, who was born in an Inuit village in northern Quebec, recalls visiting families where the absence of children was a “palpable void.”
She says she became a “stand-in, a well-loved substitute” for parents who desperately missed their own children.
Residential school survivors told their stories at a ceremony Wednesday night on Parliament Hill ahead of the inaugural Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he applauds the courage of residential school survivors and that it cannot be easy for them to tell their stories.
At the ceremony on Parliament Hill ahead of the inaugural Truth and Reconciliation Day, Trudeau said reconciliation simply doesn’t mean looking back and understanding the mistakes made in the past but realizing that they are shaping the country even today.
He says while Canada is seen as a peace-loving place that respects the rights of people, it is also a country that has made huge and terrible mistakes.
The prime minister says the challenges facing First Nations such as injustice, inequality, discrimination and racism can be traced back to the decisions made decades ago.
Trudeau says it behooves everyone to listen to the experiences of residential school survivors and know that they are every Canadian’s story.