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Papal Apology

Honourable senators, I thank the Canadian Senators Group for giving me space to speak today. When I was in residential school, I began to disbelieve this Catholic God that the nuns and priests spoke of. How could a good and just God see me as a savage when he made me? When I went to confession at the age of 12, the priest asked if I let boys do bad things to me. I rarely entered the church after that and never went back to confession, thinking, “Why should I confess to another sinner?” Over th…
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Indigenous Disability Awareness Month

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Indigenous Disability Awareness Month, or IDAM, on behalf of Neil Belanger from B.C. IDAM is celebrated each November, with 2021 marking its seventh anniversary. Currently, over 22% of the Canadian population lives with a disability. For Indigenous peoples in Canada, the disability rate is significantly higher, at over 30%. Indigenous peoples living with disabilities face multiple barriers to their inclusion and their ability to thrive in Canada.…
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Tribute to Senator Keating

Honourable senators, I hold tobacco today to thank the Creator for lending me Senator Keating. Colleagues, I’m honoured to pay tribute to Senator Keating. Even though our budding friendship was shortened by her untimely passing, Senator Keating left an indelible mark on me. She was gentle, humble and passionate. She was a warrior. Truth and honesty were her touchstones. Senator Keating was and remains an ally. She will always be with me now — in spirit and as a mentor. As an ally, she never h…
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Words from Chief Wayne Christian

Honourable senators, I recently had the privilege of hearing Chief Wayne Christian speak at a conference on Indigenous matters. He is chief of the Splatsin First Nation in B.C. and a tribal chief of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. These are excerpts from his speech: Those little ones . . . . They whispered ‘They found us.’ Those 3 words echoed around the world. . . . The discovery has opened up all that we know as Indigenous People of how this country has treated us. How their laws — the leg…
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Remains of Indigenous Children Found at Kamloops Indian Residential School

Thank you to Senator Rob Black and to Senator Martin for offering their space today. Honourable senators, this is an intergenerational statement. A mass grave of children — sons, daughters, siblings, grandchildren, potential leaders and change agents — a genocide of children who were never given the opportunity to live their lives, simply because they were Indian. Their connection to family, to their culture, their hopes and dreams for their futures all stolen, and by whom? Does this continue t…
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Indigenous Women's Firsts - 2

Honourable senators, I start today by thanking the magnificent Indigenous women who, over the course of Canadian history, have paved the way for their descendants, despite facing many overwhelming challenges. The stories of these women, established since the 1800s but begun centuries before, are still relevant today. They capture snapshots of Indigenous women’s history, experiences and knowledge about creating a strong sense of identity, despite facing racist and sexist marginalization. These wo…
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Indigenous Women's Firsts - 1

Honourable senators, just as I was a student in both land-based education and Western education, and walked between two worlds, I would like to invite you to be a student of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-status peoples’ reality and history. I invite you to do so to learn two-eyed seeing, a Mi’kmaq way of knowing that will help us in our journey toward reconciliation. In the 1974 book The Fourth World: An Indian Reality, by George Manuel and Michael Posluns, Manuel states on page 2: Withi…
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Tribute to Senator Ron Michel

Honourable senators, I rise in tribute to Senator Ron Michel of the Prince Albert Grand Council, December 6, 1951, to Monday, January 25, 2021. Senator Michel was born in 1951 in a log cabin on the Churchill River, what he called the lifeblood of the Peter Ballantyne Woodland Cree in northern Saskatchewan. His mother and father lived and passed on to their children a rich and spiritual traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering. His father encouraged him to get an educati…
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The Borland Family

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Honourable senators, I would like to pay tribute to the host families that billeted residential school students as we left the residential schools across Canada. The majority of students were placed in private homes in the towns and cities where we were to continue our high school. Most families didn’t know what we had undergone. I had the great privilege and luck to be placed in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Borland in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. I still keep in touch wit…
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The Borland Family

Honourable senators, I would like to pay tribute to the host families that billeted residential school students as we left the residential schools across Canada. The majority of students were placed in private homes in the towns and cities where we were to continue our high school. Most families didn’t know what we had undergone. I had the great privilege and luck to be placed in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Borland in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. I still keep in touch with my host family and came…
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