Sometimes, when the Ontario Legislature comes together and speaks with one voice, it is so calm and quiet, you can almost hear your heartbeat.
One such occasion took place on September 28th, as MPPs offered their thoughts in recognition of National Truth and Reconciliation Day. The speeches were stirring, emotion-filled, and thought-provoking. Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa spoke of his own time at Stirland Lake Indian Residential School and the resulting wounds that have yet to heal.
“Where is the public advertising campaign about Indian Residential Schools, admitting the harms, and fighting against those who deny our history? Where is the Province of Ontario’s reformed curriculum, one that makes it mandatory, not a choice, to teach all children in Ontario schools from kindergarten to Grade 8 that Indian residential schools happened and that our children, our loved ones, never came home from these institutions? Why isn’t the truth about treaties being taught?” MPP Mamakwa implored.
“Ontario, you can do your part. Awake from your slumber and open your eyes to our true history. Only then can we walk forward together,” he said in conclusion.
Don Valley East MPP Adil Shamji spoke of his interactions with and respect for Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
“All levels of government across this country must work together to honour the principles of truth and reconciliation in everything that we do. That means consultation. That means partnership. That means contribution. And that means respect. As you all know, we still have lots of work to do, and today, we push on together,” MPP Shamji added.
Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner pointed out the need for reflection.
“We have an obligation to confront the truth – the truth the Member for Kiiwetinoong just shared with us – no matter how painful that truth is, as the first step to healing. We must confront the truths of colonialism, systemic racism, broken treaties and residential schools,” MPP Scheiner said.
Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Kevin Holland spoke of the Government’s commitment to healing.
“Learning the truth of Ontario’s dark history of Indian residential schools is the foundation of the path towards reconciliation. We all must do the work to understand the history and how this history impacts us all today,” MPP Holland explained.
One truth. One voice. One heartbeat.