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Governor General says education is key to reconciliation ahead of national holiday

Mary Simon says we have a shared responsibility to record and teach the true history of Canada

Gov. Gen. 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 Thursday, one day before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“Education is a key to reconciliation. We must learn about each other to reach out to different cultures — Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike,” Simon said in her eight-minute speech, which she delivered in English, French and Inuktitut, the language of Inuit.

“It is our shared responsibility to record and teach the true history of Canada.”

She encouraged the students to lead with understanding and respect, and raise issues with family and friends.

“Together, let’s engage with the diverse communities that make up our country, to create a nation where all young people can take control of their destinies, where they can be who they are free from judgment. That is my hope, and I hope that is your hope as well. That is what I work toward,” 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 acknowledged the progress Canadians have made toward 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 further their educations, something 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 day’s name draws on a Cree phrase that means “walking together in a good way,” or reconciliation.

The event was meant to educate 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, along with survivor stories and performances from Indigenous artists.

On Wednesday, Simon visited the James Smith Cree Nation northeast of Saskatoon, where members continue to grieve loved ones killed in a stabbing rampage earlier this month.

—Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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