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PM warns 'denialism' is rising as National Truth and Reconciliation Day events kick off

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"We must never forget the past and the injustices committed against Indigenous Peoples at residential schools, as well as the intergenerational trauma that remains today," Justin Trudeau said. "Right now, with denialism sadly on the rise, uncovering the whole truth is more important than ever."

Poilievre says day is important to 'reflect upon wrongs done in the past' and promote reconciliation

People hold up a sign.
People hold up a sign commemorating victims of the residential school system, during an event at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 30, 2023. (Patrick Foucault/CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the occasion of National Truth and Reconciliation Day to warn in a statement about rising "denialism" in Canada related to the harms from residential schools and other injustices against Indigenous communities, as people gather across the country to mark the event.

"We must never forget the past and the injustices committed against Indigenous Peoples at residential schools, as well as the intergenerational trauma that remains today," Trudeau said in a written statement. "Right now, with denialism sadly on the rise, uncovering the whole truth is more important than ever."

Trudeau is in Saskatchewan today participating in events related to the National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

The federal statutory holiday recognizes the legacy of Canada's residential school system and its harms to Indigenous Peoples. It was introduced in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action.

Joanna Bernard, interim national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is using the day to urge the government to implement the rest of them, saying only 13 calls to action have been completed so far. 

Responding to a question from CBC News on Parliament Hill Saturday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said the event was "a very special day for all Canadians to reflect on the wrongs of the past, to promote reconciliation and to honour the first peoples from coast to coast to coast."

In a statement, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the day was an opportunity for Canadians to learn and reflect on the past.

"Only by confronting this history can we commit to a future where all children can prosper," he said.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, who is expected to attend, said the day is one for reflection but also for action.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christian Paas-Lang covers federal politics for CBC News in Ottawa as an associate producer with The House and a digital writer with CBC Politics. You can reach him at [email protected].

With files from The Canadian Press