Premier Ranj Pillai has issued the following statement:
“Tomorrow, on September 30th, we recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, remembering the children who never returned home from residential schools, and the Survivors of those institutions and their communities who are impacted by this tragic history to this day. This is an opportunity to honour the Survivors of residential schools and grieve for the children who never returned home. 2023 marks the first time we will observe this day as a statutory holiday in the Yukon.
“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation weighs even more heavily on our hearts as we reflect upon the information brought to light by the Yukon Residential Schools and Missing Children Project Working Group’s search of the Chooutla residential school site in Carcross. This week, the Government of Yukon has flown the Survivors flag at half-mast in response to the grief we feel as we think of those children, their families and their communities. Their losses weigh heavy to this day.
“All Yukoners stand united in support of the families, individuals and communities who are deeply impacted by this information.
“I would like to thank the Yukon Residential School and Missing Children Project Working Group for carrying out this heavy work on behalf of all Yukoners. Their quest for answers will hopefully bring a sense of peace for some families, as well as understanding and empathy to the rest of our community.
“Our government will continue to work in collaboration with the Government of Canada, Yukon First Nations and the Council of Yukon First Nations to support the Residential Schools and Missing Children Project Working Group. The Government of Yukon has established an interdepartmental working group to support the committee with the important work they are doing.
“I would like to acknowledge the Walking Warriors for the Lost Children who started their journey in Dawson on September 24 and who will arrive in Whitehorse at the Council of Yukon First Nation’s community gathering at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre tomorrow.
“The weight of residential schools is one that we must carry together as a community in solidarity, unity and with great compassion, and our government remains committed to our journey toward reconciliation. We continue to work with Yukon First Nations to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and to implement the Yukon’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2-Spirit+ People Strategy, which will further advance reconciliation and address the Calls to Action.
“I encourage Yukoners to check in on each other, take time for learning and healing and lean on the strength of our community. Many First Nations are hosting ceremonial fires or community gatherings and the Yukon government has increased the number of Rapid Access Counselling appointments for people across the territory. People can call 867-456-3838 to request an appointment within 24 hours. Supports are available for people who are struggling.
“This is a time to reflect on the painful legacy of residential schools, but also on the strength and resilience of Yukon First Nations and Indigenous communities across Canada.”