Governor General Mary Simon says her hope for Canada is to have a nation where all young people can be free from judgment.
Simon was speaking to high school students at Mosaic Day in Regina on Thursday, a day before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“Education is the key to reconciliation. We need to learn from each other to reach different cultures – Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” Simon said in her eight-minute speech, which she delivered in English, French and Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit.
“It is our shared responsibility to record and teach the true story of Canada.
She encouraged students to lead with understanding and respect, and to raise issues with family and friends.
“Together, let us engage with the diverse communities that make up our country, to create a nation where all young people can take charge of their destiny, where they can be who they are without judgement. That’s my hope, and I hope it’s yours too. That’s what I’m working towards,” Simon said.
The Governor General said she was forced to attend a federal day school as a child in Nunavut and was punished for speaking Inuktitut.
However, she also recognized the progress that Canadians have made towards reconciliation.
“Today, indigenous children can go to school in their own community, learn and speak their own language wherever and whenever they want. And now they have the opportunity to continue their education, which I didn’t have when I was growing up.
Simon was one of the speakers at the Miyo-wiciwitowin Day event, which aimed to bring together 10,000 students, business leaders and members of the public.
The organizing committee said the name of the day is inspired by a Cree expression which means “to walk together in the right direction”, or reconciliation.
The event was aimed at educating people ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday.
Other speakers included RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as stories from survivors and performances by Indigenous artists.
On Wednesday, Simon visited the James Smith Cree Nation northeast of Saskatoon, where members continue to mourn loved ones killed in a stabbing rampage earlier this month.
—Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press
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