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Thousands of students attend Truth and Reconciliation event at TD Place

It was an arena full of orange shirts. Thousands of students attended an event at TD Place in Ottawa on Thursday, ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

One of the speakers in attendance was a residential school survivor, Susan Beaudin.

"I'm a survivor, because I'm still here," Beaudin said. "Things that happened to us were really, really horrific things. And no matter how many times you heal, no matter how many times you go back to your ceremony, no matter how many times to go back to your culture that experience will live in you."

Singer-songwriter Jully Black sang the national anthem. She made headlines earlier this year when she changed the lyrics from "our home and native land" to "our home on native land."

Singer-songwriter Jully Black sings O Canada at the Truth and Reconciliation event at TD Place on Thursday. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

"The lyric change brought me here," Black says. "The feedback has been unreal. I didn't do it for that reason, but to know that to do something so meaningful and so simple, it lets me realize there's other things in life that I wish I had done and now I'm going to do that are just a simple."

The event focussed on raising awareness about the residential school system and aimed to inspire today’s youth to work towards reconciliation.

Autumn Peltier, Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, also spoke to the students.

"We've been able to bring these Indigenous issues like clean water, racism, discrimination, missing or murdered Indigenous women, all these topics revolving around Indigenous people are able to be at the discussion table now," the 19-year-old said.

The event was filled with Indigenous artists honouring survivors with music and dancing. 

"Growing up off the reserve, and hearing about all these stories and what they had to go through, it means a lot just to be here at this space. It's amazing," said Mattmac, who is a blind music producer and recording artist.

"I think it's so important to do these events because we need to, you know, just share the history and the truth about what happened to Indigenous people in Canada," says Dj Kookum, who opened the show. 

A banner with the names of children who died in residential schools is displayed at the Truth and Reconciliation event at TD Place on Thursday. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

Halfway through the event, a powerful display as the names of children who died in residential schools written on a red banner passed through the arena. Stretching from one end of the room to the other.

"The more we know and the more we learn together and the more we celebrate one another, that's where we're going," Beaudin said. "That's where we need to go. We can't be dividing each other anymore."

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