Breadcrumb trail

Ombudsman’s Statement on Canada Day

As we approach Canada’s 154th birthday on July 1st, I am calling on settler Canadians to pause and truly reflect on the ongoing genocide against Indigenous Peoples, which continues to be felt with the recovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of children at former Indian Residential ‘School’ sites. Indigenous children were taken by the thousands from their homes, communities and territories in an attempt by the Government of Canada to erase their language, culture, identity, ceremonies, traditions and ways of life. These children were dehumanized, abused, neglected, starved and killed. Thousands never returned home to their families. The pain and trauma of this purposeful maltreatment and violence lives on today, and the traumatic memories are transferred intergenerationally to descendants of Survivors of the Indian Residential ‘Schools’.

At the OFOVC, we acknowledge that many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people continue to feel that they do not belong in Canada. Their lived experience and reality is that the government wanted them dead. This is why the recent unearthing is so devastating to all Indigenous People.

My Office wishes to express our heartache and sorrow. We will stand alongside our Indigenous staff, partners and community members to support them now and always. We commit to learning more about the unfathomable and lasting damage Residential ‘Schools’ had, and continues to have, on Indigenous communities. We will continue to raise the voices of affected Indigenous family members who seek fair treatment and respect for their rights in the criminal justice system.

If you need support at this time, please reach out to one of the helplines below:

  • Indian Residential School Crisis Line has also been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419
  • Hope for Wellness Help Line  1-855-242-3310
  • Talk 4 Healing Help Line  1-888-200-9997

Additionally, there are resources offered within various Indigenous communities, band offices and health centers.

Together, let’s address the truths of our country and commit to respecting and recognizing that there is no Canada without Indigenous Peoples.

Heidi Illingworth
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime