Trudeau says 'denialism' rising as nation marks holiday for indigenous reconcilation

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, U.S., September 21, 2023 as tensions escalate following Canada's announcement that it was "actively pursuing credible allegations" linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in June. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday warned about the rise of "denialism" and said uncovering the truth was more important than ever as the nation gathered to honor the lost children and survivors of indigenous schools.

Trudeau's statement was made on National Truth and Reconciliation Day, which recognizes the legacy of the residential schools, which operated between 1831 and 1996 and removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families. Some were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition at schools in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called "cultural genocide."

"We must never forget the past and the injustices committed against Indigenous Peoples at residential schools, as well as the intergenerational trauma that remains today," Trudeau said in a statement. "Right now, with denialism sadly on the rise, uncovering the whole truth is more important than ever."

Canada's indigenous peoples suffer from higher levels of poverty and violence, and shorter life expectancies.

Trudeau had drawn criticism on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021 for flying to the west coast with his family shortly after his after his own government designated the day as a federal holiday.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Toronto; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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