Stained Glass Window Dedication Ceremony - The Honourable John Duncan

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Transcript: The Honourable John Duncan

Greg Rickford: Ladies and gentlemen, now I'm pleased to introduce the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable John Duncan, to offer a few remarks. Thank you, John.

Hon. John Duncan: Thank you very much, Greg. Elders, Mr. Speaker, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome. It's my great honour and privilege to join you here today on Algonquin traditional territory for this dedication ceremony. It was just over a year ago last October that I announced that the government of Canada would commemorate the legacy of Indian residential schools through the permanent installation of stained glass artwork in Centre Block.

This past June, on the 4th anniversary of the Prime Minister's historic Apology to former students of Indian residential schools, I had the pleasure of unveiling the artwork of renowned Métis artist Christi Belcourt which was unanimously selected to be translated into stained glass and installed here in the House of Commons. Since June, Ms. Belcourt has worked in close collaboration with Vision Art Glass Studio on the translation of her design into a stained glass window. Together they have created this stunning window we see before us today. Behind me, before you, a profound and moving piece of art. This window is an extraordinary artistic achievement. So thank you, Christi. I'm honoured to participate in the official dedication of this stained glass window.

The primary purpose of the window is to honour the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who attended Indian residential schools as well as their families and communities who were impacted by this schools' legacy, and for this reason, I would like to acknowledge the former Indian residential school students who are here with us today, some of whom have traveled great distances from across the country to join with us. Through the official dedication of this window, we honour your experiences and ensure they are never forgotten.

I would also like to thank the Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. Andrew Scheer. Your support for this project ensures that the window will be on display in this prominent location for generations to come. The window will encourage parliamentarians and the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to Parliament Hill to learn about the history of Indian residential schools and Canada's reconciliation efforts. All Canadians will be able to visit the window and learn about the story it tells for years to come.

The window is a beautiful and powerful reminder of the lessons learned from the residential schools experience. It provides us with an enduring reminder of past mistakes to ensure they're never repeated. It also provides a glimpse into a future where mutual respect and understanding form the basis of a new relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

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