Indian residential schools: flag raised to honor survivors


The federal government today raised the Survivor Flag on Parliament Hill to honor the Indigenous peoples forced to attend residential schools.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was joined by Stephanie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal and residential school survivors from across the country .

Several residential school survivors have spoken of the significance of the flag, including Jimmy Durocher, a Métis survivor who attended St. Bruno Residential School in Ile-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan.

“Today, we raise the Survivor flag high over these colonial buildings, where lawmakers are now listening to our truths and seeking to work together toward reconciliation,” Durocher said.

In his remarks, Scott asked elected officials to take the time to do their jobs to pause when they see the flag.

“Pause and reflect on the truth that remains to be told and the hard work that remains to be done,” Scott said.

Trudeau called residential schools a “shameful” part of Canadian history and said the survivors’ flag would serve as a way for Canadians to remember what happened at government-funded, government-run institutions. church for more than a century.

“This flag is an expression of remembrance,” Trudeau said. “It is meant to honor all survivors and all lives across generations who have been, are and will continue to be impacted by the residential school system.”

The flag was designed in consultation and collaboration with survivors, with every element of the design having been approved by the consulted group.

The elements include a depiction of a family with seeds underneath meant to represent the spirits of children who never returned home.

Eugene Arcand, a Cree survivor who attended St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, spoke of the shared responsibility of Canadians in pursuing reconciliation efforts and urged people to get to know the survivors.

“There are not many of us left,” Arcand said. “Take the opportunity to meet us. Know who we are.”

Last year, ground-penetrating radar located what are believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves on the grounds of former boarding schools, sparking efforts to remember survivors.

The flag will remain flown on Parliament Hill until 2024, when a decision will be made on its permanent residence.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 29, 2022.


If you are a distressed former residential school student, or if you have been impacted by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour residential school crisis line at 1-866 -925-4419, or the Survivors Society’s Indian Residential Schools Toll-Free Line at 1-800-721-0066.

Additional mental health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.