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'We as Canadians must be honest with ourselves about our past': Trudeau releases Canada Day statement

“Today, we celebrate our country and everyone who calls it home. We also reflect on everything we have accomplished, and look forward to what more we have to do."

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Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
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Prime minister Justin Trudeau released his statement wishing Canadians a happy Canada Day today, while also paying tribute to the lives lost at residential schools.

The full statement can be read below:

“Today, we celebrate our country and everyone who calls it home. We also reflect on everything we have accomplished, and look forward to what more we have to do.

“The pandemic has changed our daily lives, taught us hard lessons, and kept us apart. But through this challenge and crisis, Canadians were there for each other. We all – young and old – made personal sacrifices to help keep our communities safe and healthy. We put signs in our windows and banged pots and pans for our front-line health care workers. We ordered takeout and shopped at our local small businesses. And once vaccines became available, we got our shots as soon as possible, so our communities could return to normal.

“Hope, hard work, kindness, resilience, and respect. These are the values that Canadians have shown in the face of the pandemic, and today we should celebrate those values and what we’ve overcome. But while we acknowledge our successes, we must also recognize that, for some, Canada Day is not yet a day of celebration.

“The horrific findings of the remains of hundreds of children at the sites of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan have rightfully pressed us to reflect on our country’s historical failures, and the injustices that still exist for Indigenous peoples and many others in Canada. We as Canadians must be honest with ourselves about our past. And we must recognize that here in Canada there are still people who don’t feel safe walking the streets of their communities, who still don’t have the same opportunities as others, and who still face discrimination or systemic racism in their daily lives.

Trudeau announced via social media that the Peace Tower in Ottawa would have its flag at half-mast in honour of "the Indigenous children whose lives were taken."

“While we can’t change the past, we must be resolute in confronting these truths in order to chart a new and better path forward. Together, we have a long way to go to make things right with Indigenous peoples. But if we all pledge to do the work – and if we lead with those core values of hard work, kindness, resilience, and respect – we can achieve reconciliation and build a better Canada for everyone.

“What makes Canada special is not the belief that this is the best country in the world, but the knowledge that we could be. And whether it’s finishing the fight against COVID-19, tackling the climate crisis, or walking the path of reconciliation, I know there is no challenge too great, if we face it together. Because the progress we’ve made as a country didn’t happen by accident, and it won’t continue without effort.

“This Canada Day, let’s recommit to learning from and listening to each other so we can break down the barriers that divide us, rectify the injustices of our past, and build a more fair and equitable society for everyone. Together, we will roll up our sleeves and do the hard work that is necessary to build a better Canada.

“From my family to yours, happy Canada Day.”

Yesterday, the prime minister said that his familiy would be celebrating Canada Day, but noted that the majority of the day.

Trudeau stated: "[Xavier Trudeau] (his son) asked me if we were going to cancel Canada Day because of the residential schools. And I told him, 'it's going to be a day where yes, we will celebrate the great things about this country, but we will mostly reflect on the work that we all have to do as individuals, and as institutions, to be better. To be more like the country we like to image we are.'"

"As we celebrate, whether it's Stanley Cup victories, fingers crossed... Or Canada Days, or other events that make us proud to be Canadians, we have to know that not everyone is going to be celebrating tomorrow. and understanding their pain and their anger, and reflecting on that... to as a Canadian, think about how I can bend this curve towards justice and reconciliation," said Trudeau.

"That's what this Canada day, I think, will be about for a lot of families. It's certain what it will be about for my family."

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