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Recognizing our past and embracing our future together

This is an important time of year for the country and for our young people especially. For many it's the ending of another school year and promise of summer with friends, family and fun. Much like everywhere across the country, our Norway House grade 12 graduates have achieved an important milestone and are now at the threshold of something new, a time of hope and sometimes a time of uncertainty. Often it's a time that will demand drive, determination, energy and talent that our young people possess to begin another new step in their journey to reaching their life's goals.

In some ways, graduation is like Canada Day. Not that we've graduated or finished all our lessons, rather it offers us the promise of celebrating our collective journey and a new start. Again it's a start that can demand our national drive, determination, energy and talent.

Some have said that they feel disconnected from Canada and from the 150th anniversary of confederation. They talk of disconnection from the national community and worse some are reminded of the continuing impact of dispossession and colonization. While we should never hide from or deny our history and the pain of the generations and decades, we must recognize the experiences and focus on moving forward together. It is the only way to truly build an inclusive, progressive and prosperous nation.

We need to learn the lessons from our history, colonization, alienation, isolation and disconnection, and find ways to promote togetherness and community. This will help direct our collaborative way forward. This will benefit our whole society, as we are mindful of the teaching, 'where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety'; and also heading the warning 'whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment'.

As an example, let?s take the Truth and Reconciliation commission's work and report, or the inquiry on murdered and missing women. All the work that has been done and the work yet to be done needs to be respected, learned from, and acted upon. The experiences gathered and the lessons identified are vitally important but they need to be a catalyst for us to work together. This cannot be a one-sided approach, everyone needs to participate if we are to get anywhere. Has anyone seen or heard of action being taken for reconciliation? Dust gathering is no answer to anything.

The Prime Minister has said that Indigenous peoples are his priority. We applaud the focus, but it?s time to take real action that produces real results. Will the new agreement signed with the Assembly of First Nations actually produce solutions that will benefit First Nations?

Like our new graduates, we as a nation should take the occasion of Canada's 150th to set our goals for the future and bring all of the drive, determination, energy and talent that we can muster to finally be an inclusive nation that welcomes and appreciates the great contribution First Nations can bring to this country. As Nehemiah knew, we all have important roles when building a nation.

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