The first annual National Truth and Reconciliation Day comes at a pivotal moment in our history. It is a precious opportunity for each of us to think about what we can do to further the spirit of learning, compassion and healing that is essential to the well-being of the society we all share.
When we wear an Orange Shirt on this day, we are recognizing the deep generational pain that Indigenous communities continue to carry due to the unfathomable damage caused by the residential school system. The recent recoveries of children’s mass graves at school sites have reopened wounds. So many are hurting and need our understanding and support. The discoveries have also galvanized people, from across this land that we share, to learn about this dark chapter in our history so that we can ensure that it never happens again. We can all be part of the listening, learning and change that needs to take place. We can pledge to walk beside our Indigenous sisters and brothers in the journey toward reconciliation, regardless of our ethnicity, age, or walk of life. This is not a change that will happen overnight and it will demand time, patience and respectful, open communication. It will unfold and flourish as we each commit to being a positive force in the ongoing process of slowly charting a better path forward.
My own commitment to reconciliation is shaped by the Cree concept of Wahkotowin, graciously shared with me by elders from whom I have had the honour of learning. It speaks to the interconnectedness of all things and the mutual responsibilities we each hold to care for Mother Earth, and everyone and everything on it. Wahkotowin encourages us to be meaningful in our actions in order to make a positive difference in our world today and for the future that our children and grandchildren will inherit. It is not a one-time effort, but rather an active and engaged way of living and seeing the world. This is the intention that I will strive to bring to the ongoing work ahead of us.
As Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in Alberta, I offer my very heartfelt wishes for healing and peace to the survivors among us, and to all those who continue to live with the terrible losses brought by residential schools. To those who are fostering a spirit of love and reconciliation in our communities, I offer my deepest gratitude and I pledge to walk beside you in what I trust will be a shared journey toward hope and healing.
Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani AOE, B.Sc., LLD (hon)
Lieutenant Governor of Alberta