This year we marked Canada Day by reflecting on our dark history and shared responsibility for reconciliation and addressing the pain caused by an inhumane system that targeted Indigenous children and families across this country. This year, many across Scarborough Southwest and this province continued to honour and mourn the lives of Indigenous children lost through the residential school system upon the recent discovery of unmarked graves coast to coast. My community and I mourn with them for the lives and history that has been lost.
As an immigrant daughter whose family was afforded life-changing opportunities after coming to this country, I am grateful. I am grateful that my family was able to live a better life and have hope. But as an immigrant settler, my family and I also have the responsibility to reflect, learn the truth about the land we live in, and work towards unlearning and reconciliation. I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunities I have, I am grateful to be able to represent this community – and as your elected official, I am also committed to addressing the injustices that Indigenous peoples continue to face even today and standing in solidarity with the community as they deal with this heart-wrenching news.
This year, for millions across Canada, July 1st was a day of reflection and action. The streets were flooded with orange t-shirts, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, settlers all came together to stand for truth, an incredibly powerful display of resistance and commitment to justice.
For many, this has been terrible news; for others this has been knowledge known in their community for generations – but for all of us, it must be a time of reconciliation, learning about Canada’s violent colonial history, and unlearning. This is a time where we must listen first and foremost to Indigenous peoples, the voices of survivors and intergenerational survivors of the Residential School system. This is a time where we must give space to Indigenous voices and leadership. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has outlined 94 calls to action that our government, and we ourselves, can take, to bring justice and help begin what will be a long process of healing. We need accountability, true commitments to honouring treaty rights, and concrete action to help Indigenous communities have access to clean water, safe housing, equitable health care, education, and mental health supports.