PEI

P.E.I. senator sponsors bill creating national day for truth and reconciliation

A bill to create a federal statutory holiday to commemorate the victims and survivors of Indigenous residential schools is expected to pass its third and final reading on Thursday.

Federal holiday would take place every year on Sept. 30

P.E.I. Sen. Brian Francis says the holiday is needed 'because survivors will not be here to gather and share their stories and experiences in the future.' (Steve Bruce/CBC)

A national day for truth and reconciliation is a step closer to reality. 

The federal statutory holiday will commemorate the victims and survivors of Indigenous residential schools.

The bill to create it was passed last week by MPs, and has now reached the Senate. It was sponsored by P.E.I. Sen. Brian Francis. 

Francis, the former chief of the Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, spoke Wednesday about the need for the national day during the bill's second reading.  

"Most of us cannot begin to understand the abuse and trauma all endured, or the strength it has taken for some of them to come forward and relive it. Without the courageous and persistent efforts of survivors, the shameful treatment of Indigenous people would not have been brought to light," Francis said.

"The holiday is needed because survivors will not be here to gather and share their stories and experiences in the future. It's estimated there are only 80,000 alive today. The number continues to decrease each year."

The national day for truth and reconciliation would take place every year on Sept. 30. 

The bill to establish it is expected to pass third and final reading in the Senate on Thursday. 

It was fast tracked through the House of Commons last week, after the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Steve Bruce

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