The Canadian government announced Friday that it will raise the national flag again on all federal buildings, ending a period of nearly six months in which it was moved to half-mast in honor of the children who buried their remains in the country. Aboriginal boarding schools.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for flags to be raised in mid-May, after the remains of more than 200 children were found at what was once Canada’s largest Aboriginal boarding school.
Flags will be flown on Sunday at sunset, before the state honors veterans on Memorial Day on November 11.
“As an essential symbol of our nation, waving the Canadian national flag at half-mast during the longest period in Canadian history demonstrates the extraordinary sense of loss,” Canada’s Department of Cultural Heritage noted in a statement.
“Raising the flag at this time will allow us to honor and remember important moments in Canadian history. There have been many conversations between Aboriginal partners and the Government of Canada to seek guidance on how to better honor the victims of detainees and ensure that they are never forgotten in the future,” he added.
From the 19th century through the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations minors were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to integrate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and were forbidden to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and insulted, and as many as 6000 are said to have died.
In 2008, the Canadian government apologized in Parliament and recognized the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse in schools. Many students remember being beaten for speaking their native languages. They also lost contact with their parents and their customs.
Berry Bellegard, who was director of the First Nations Assembly in May, said that while finding graves in former boarding schools is not new, it is always sad to reveal the wounds of this class.