TORONTO — Canadian and Indigenous communities across the country are stopping by to reflect and mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the new statutory holiday to honor survivors and victims of forced assimilation in residential schools.

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While some Canadians are learning about the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples for the first time in residential schools and Indian day schools, Serpent River First Nation Chief Brent Bisellon said it is imperative to remember that First Nations, Métis and Inuit People have known about it. It’s going to take more than a day a year to address the truth from the beginning – and the legacy left by the residential school system.

Speaking to Granthshala News, Bisaillon, one of the youngest First Heads of State in Canada, shares his message to all Canadians on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.


Here is the full text of Bisalon’s interview with Granthshala News.

Note: This transcript has been edited for length and grammar.

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Granthshala News: “I ask you how are you celebrating this day?”

Bisalon: “I’m actually going to spend the afternoon with one of the local schools. We’re going to have a talk and then we’re going to give a blanket exercise as well. I’m going to spend it with the kids today.”

Granthshala News: “How do you think people who are probably not indigenous should recognize the importance of this day?”

Bisalon: “I think it’s a mixed bag. I hope many people take the time to think about what they are today, I hope they read indigenous material and focus on how they can find harmony in their lives.” And in fact, if you live in Ontario or one of the provinces that isn’t recognizing it as a holiday today, you can use your voice to tell governments today Let us try to make you realize the importance of

Granthshala News: “Do you think establishing some kind of national holiday like this for truth and reconciliation signals a change in the way we talk about Indigenous issues in Canada?”

Bisalon: “I hope so. I think today is just one day. It’s a symbolic acceptance. And I think it’s going to take just over a year. It’s going to take a few days out of these days to decide.” That’s what this country wants to do in terms of reconciliation. Just yesterday, we saw the Human Rights Tribunal decide on an appeals process for child care. So going forward, I hope the federal government doesn’t appeal that decision. and will actually harmonize with the children in the care.

Granthshala News: “You were part of Granthshala News’ special coverage on election night and with the minority of the Trudeau government winning re-election, what do you expect them to see in the coming months and years?”

Bisalon: “To make meaningful and real change, that’s what we have to do. We can’t have symbolic changes. I think out of 94 calls to action, the government has only made nine calls, you know, the other 94 calls to action.” What about action? We need a movement to call for justice for missing and murdered indigenous women. We need the implementation of the Aatma scheme. And right now we are talking only about residential schools – but we have Haven’t talked about ’60s scoop. We haven’t talked about Millennium Group. We haven’t talked about Indian day schools, Indian hospitals. There are many more such incidents in this country What we have to consider. I am looking for movement on all that.”

Granthshala News: “Is there still an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous culture in our country today? How do you do that when we talk about residential schools and the ’60s scoop? Is there even a place to celebrate?”

Bisalon: “Yeah, I think there is a way to appreciate and celebrate Indigenous people, regardless of policies and whatever has happened. That’s what I’m hoping my community will really celebrate and take stock of. But I do I also know there is a lot of grief and a lot of mixed feelings about today, especially with an indigenous community. So I hope my relatives take time. They rest. And we can take that little bit of time in our daily lives. C find joy and laughter, because Canadians are just coming to terms with it. But indigenous people are living their whole lives with it. We’ve known about schools. We’ve known about all these issues. And so our For – I think about my grandparents, Elsie and Romeo and what they’re doing. So it’s a little bit of mixed feelings, but I hope we can celebrate culture, we can celebrate That’s who we are, and then there’s some understanding from Canadians that you don’t celebrate us when good things or bad things are happening. But celebrate us when he’s a land keeper. The mares are protecting the water. Celebrate us when we stand up for our rights. Celebrate us in all aspects, not just how we look, how our clothes are, how beautiful our bead work is. There is much more to celebrate than just celebrate. And when we protect our land, when we protect our water, when we hold the government accountable, we really need Canadians to stand by us. We need allies to make this happen. This is my call to Canadians today: be allies and stand with us as we defend our inherent rights, as we call for the basic human rights of clean water habitat. This is not reconciliation, I said on election night. Reconciliation is not clean water and housing. They are just basic human rights. They are treaty rights. That’s what I’m looking for.”