Justin Trudeau has shared a strong message about Canada’s history. Talking specifically about the residential school system, the prime minister spoke about the importance of acknowledging the “dark and shameful” chapters of the past. His message comes as the federal government announced its own acknowledgement of the residential school system.

On September 1, the federal government announced that two former residential schools would become national historic sites.

With this, they formally recognized the “national historic significance” of the system, describing it as a “tragic and defining event in Canadian history.”

Sharing his own statement, the prime minister reiterated the importance of ensuring such events “are never forgotten.”

Tweeting on September 1, he wrote, “We must acknowledge the dark and shameful chapters of our past ..."

Trudeau specifically mentioned the residential school system, which “tore Indigenous families and communities apart and has had enduring impacts on Indigenous peoples across the country.”

A message from the federal government on the same day acknowledged that the system’s intention was to assimilate children and “destroy their cultures and identities.”

The report recognized that many Indigenous children were “forcibly removed” from their homes, and faced “sub-standard conditions, harsh discipline, neglect, abuse, and the deliberate suppression of their languages and cultures.”

The government statement acknowledged the “devastating long-term impacts” that survivors and their communities experience.

As part of his message, Trudeau spoke about honouring survivors of such schools, and moving to “advance reconciliation in partnership with Indigenous peoples.”

To this end, the former Portage La Prairie Indian Residential School in Manitoba and the former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia were designated as national historic sites on Tuesday.

This is a response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls for action.

As part of their message, the federal government explained that national historic designations are there to remember “all aspects of Canadian history, both positive and negative.”

The intention is to “foster better understanding and open discussions on the cultures and realities of the history of Canada.”

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