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Jagmeet's Statement on National Aboriginal Day

National Aboriginal Day celebrates the vibrancy and richness of Indigenous cultures in Canada. It’s a day to highlight the traditions and languages of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. 

I have been fortunate to be welcomed into Indigenous ceremonies by my friends across the country and am deeply committed to supporting Indigenous-led efforts to make sure they thrive.

National Aboriginal Day also marks the resilience of Indigenous peoples who have preserved tradition, despite deliberate efforts to eradicate culture and languages by the Canadian government, throughout our country’s history. From the North-West Half-Breed Commission, to forced Inuit resettlement, to the Residential Schools, we cannot turn away from the violence and discrimination throughout our country’s colonial past and present.

It has now been two years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) translated the horrors of Residential Schools into actionable recommendations.

On National Aboriginal Day, I want to see words put into action. The federal government must support Indigenous-led work to grow and revitalize Indigenous culture and languages. I call on Justin Trudeau’s government to take immediate action, so that our children may inherit the diverse traditions of this land.

  1. Introduce the Indigenous Languages Act: We celebrate that today there are more than 50 Indigenous languages spoken in Canada, but only three are predicted to survive unless action is taken to preserve them. As Leader, I will take immediate action to revitalize Indigenous languages, by calling on the Trudeau government to introduce the long-promised Indigenous Languages Act and invest $250 million now to ensure the health and viability of Indigenous languages

  2. Establish a National Council for Reconciliation: I will established a National Council for Reconciliation as called for by the TRC, and set up an annual Parliamentary monitor, to set benchmarks for measuring progress made on improving the lives of Indigenous people and on the implementation of the TRC’s recommendations.

  3. Construct a Residential Schools National Monument: As called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commision, I am committed to building a Residential Schools National Monument in the City of Ottawa, developed in collaboration with residential school survivors and their organizations, as well as other parties to the Settlement Agreement. I believe that the legacy of residential schools and Canada’s colonial history more broadly must become part of the collective imagination of this country. This publically accessible and highly visible monument would commemorate the children who were lost to their families and their communities through Residential Schools.

In the coming months, I will continue to meet with First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders across the country for advice and direction on the release of a bold Indigenous Justice Agenda to be announced this summer.

These calls are the first steps the Trudeau government can take immediately to reconcile Canada’s past and support the preservation of Indigenous culture and communities.