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Wab Kinew, MLA Fort Rouge
June 1, 2017

Orange Shirt Day Act

It's very meaningful that on our last day of sitting before Canada's 150th birthday that we are in the midst of passing The Orange Shirt Day Act, which would recognize and honour residential school survivors, commemorate their resilience and also commit to educating future generations of Manitobans from all backgrounds as to the mistakes that were made but also the stories of inspiration and overcoming long odds on the road to success. I want to thank all of my colleagues for their support thus far in bringing this to pass.

I also want to thank Ted Fontaine for his remarkable story of survival on his way to becoming a victor of his experience at the Assiniboia resi­dential school. I think I speak on behalf of all of our colleagues that we will not soon forget the words that you shared in the committee, and that as long as we and those other young people who were here today are alive, your story will be a part of the living memory of this world.

I want to also share that one of those students, a young man named Brandan, from Children of the Earth High School, literally took his shirt off the back–off his own back and offered that as a gift to our Premier. And, though we may not agree on policy matters, I would encourage the Premier, in his deliberations, to remember the residential school survivors and what their story has to teach us about respecting the best interests of all children. And so I offer that with great humility.

I also want to speak to my late father, a residential school survivor from the St. Mary's residential school. Dad, I love you, I forgive you, and I hope that you are proud of the work we are carrying out here today.

And, to my son, I want to say, Bezhigomiigwaan, my father taught me how to pray in our language and in our culture so that I could teach you how to pray in our language and our culture. Continue to pray in our tradition, and may you be free of the emotional baggage that my sisters from Sagkeeng, The Pas, Kewatinook and myself carry with us, because, if you free yourself from that baggage, then it is your generation that will make right the mistakes of the residential‑school era.

Because there is no red race, there is no white race, there is no black race, there is no yellow race; there is only one race, the human race. And may Creator help us all.

Chi miigwech.