OTTAWA, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Canada marked the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Saturday, commemorating the tragic history of residential schools.
The annual event, also known as Orange Shirt Day, was established as a federal statutory holiday in 2021 to remember thousands of children who died while being forced to attend church-run and government-funded residential schools and reflect on the ongoing impacts on survivors, their families and communities.
The day was introduced in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls for action.
On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to support the families of indigenous communities still searching for their children who never returned home.
"We confront the lasting impacts of the residential school system for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis in Canada. We come together to remember the children who were stolen from their communities and those whose lives were stolen from them at these so-called schools. We honor the Survivors, many of whom suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. We listen to their truths, and we reiterate our commitment to building a better future for Indigenous Peoples and for everyone in Canada," Trudeau said.
"The Government of Canada will be there every step of the way to provide them with the resources they need to fully uncover the truth of what happened at residential schools, honor the children who did not return, and support communities as they continue on their healing journeys," Trudeau said.
The prime minister also said that one must never forget the past and the injustices committed against the indigenous people at residential schools, as well as the intergenerational trauma that remains today.
As part of the annual commemorative program, Canadian people gathered in communities in various parts of the country.
Trudeau attended the event held in Lac La Ronge in the Saskatchewan province, while hundreds of survivors, indigenous leaders and other dignitaries attended the national commemorative gathering held on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.
Between 1867 and 1998, over 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children were taken from their families and communities and forced to attend residential schools, where they were banned from speaking their languages and practicing their cultures and traditions, according to the Canadian authorities. Those children had to endure physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and never returned home.