NunatuKavut President participates in the Royal Visit
President Todd Russell today attended events organized by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to welcome His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall on the first stop of their tour in Canada. As Indigenous reconciliation is a focus of the visit, all five provincial Indigenous leaders were invited to participate in two key events at the Confederation Building and at the Heart Garden at Government House.
President Russell delivered the following welcome and prayer at the Heart Garden ceremony (check against delivery):
“Good day. Ullusiak. I am honoured to be present here today as an Inuk from NunatuKavut, the place we call home. And I am honoured to be here with my fellow Indigenous leaders to welcome His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall to the ancestral homeland of the Beothuk, the Mi’kmaq, the Innu and the Inuit. I also acknowledge our elders, and all other dignitaries and special guests. Welcome. Atelihai.
I invite each of you to pray with me in your own spiritual traditions.
Creator, we greet you this day and we ask for your guidance, and thank you for bringing us together and for uniting us in this moment. We are thankful for the love and care, and kindness that surrounds us. Today we are gathered in a very special place, a place that honors and remembers the many, many Indigenous children, sons and daughters, who attended residential schools in this province.
We acknowledge the tremendous hurt and pain and wrongdoings that took place. We acknowledge the lasting hurt and pain that many people, families and communities continue to experience. We take time today to reflect on what happened and to make solumn comittments to ensuring those tragic experiences are never repeated. To do better. To be better.
We solemnly remember those who have passed on, carrying their stories to the very end. And our thoughts are with those still with us, those still on their healing journey. The bravery, courage and resiliency they display in their daily lives is an inspiration to us all.
You, Creator, know their stories. These stories are carried out on the ice when they hunt, on the land when they harvest, and in their homes as they sit with family at the table. These truths are part of who we are and how we will live into the future. It is vital that we create space for the stories from residential schools to be told. It is an important part of healing and reconciliation. We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and those around us about our history, the good and the bad.
Creator, we ask that you open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, our hearts to heal, and our hands to do the hard work of reconciliation. It is our duty, Creator, to uphold and honour our culture and way of life, and in so doing, the memories of our ancestors. And to ensure that the places we call home are protected and nurtured. We ask you for the strength and wisdom so we can do this to the best of our abilities.
In your name, Amen. Thank you. Nakummek.”
The Heart Garden is located on the grounds of Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was unveiled in 2019 in honour of all Indigenous children who were lost to the residential school system, to recognize those who survived and for the families of both.