Many events are being held this week across Canada to honour Indigenous children and families as the nation marks its second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday.
Sept. 30 was set aside last year as a federal statutory holiday to commemorate children who died while being forced to attend church-run and government-funded residential schools, and those who survived, as well as the families and communities still affected by the lasting trauma.
Here’s a look at how the day was observed.
In Saskatoon, hundreds gathered on Treaty 6 territory Friday as part of the Rock Your Roots Walk for Reconciliation. Shirley Isbister, president of Central Urban Métis Federation Incorporated, said the sea of orange shows that people are listening to the calls for support.
Communities across the Waterloo region gathered Friday to mark Canada’s second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In New Hamburg, a sunrise ceremony was held at Norm S. Hill Park, near the Nith River. The ceremony was led by local Indigenous elders and a sacred fire burned from dawn until dusk.
Meanwhile in downtown Kitchener, hundreds of marchers made their way to Victoria Park. Honking, drumming and singing could be heard from the crowd, and people from nearby businesses and apartment buildings waved as the group passed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a sunrise ceremony in Niagara Falls on Friday morning. Following the ceremony, he spoke with residential school survivors, and, during a later address to the crowd, he challenged Canadians to be more accepting of survivors’ stories.
At Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, many — including the city’s mayor — joined Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre for their annual Indigenous Legacy Gathering, which celebrates Indigenous cultures, traditions and languages through workshops, presentations, stories, teachings, dance, film and music.
Joined the <a href=”https://twitter.com/TOCouncilFire?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TOCouncilFire</a> at the Indigenous Legacy Gathering today at Nathan Phillips Square.<br><br>It was an honour to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with survivors of residential & day schools & to see the square filled with people gathering to mark the day. <a href=”https://t.co/8WXt62QeBF”>pic.twitter.com/8WXt62QeBF</a>
In Ottawa, hundreds marched in protest of the city’s Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and called for it no longer bear the name of the country’s first prime minister.
“We’re here because of the actions and decisions made by John A. Macdonald, who committed genocide in this country,” said Albert Dumont, an Algonquin elder from Kitigan Zibi Anishinābe First Nation.
Also in the capital, an event was held in LeBreton Flats Park, where a long red banner was displayed showing the names of people who died in residential schools.
(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
At the event, Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said the day was initially envisioned to be a day for Canadians to reflect on the country’s history and treatment of Indigenous people — and commit to do better for the rest of the year.
In the photo below, Sinclair is seen embracing Trudeau.
(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
In Windsor, speakers at an event in Ojibway Park shared stories about residential schools and the trauma they experienced. Those who attended the event were also able to take nature walks through the park, speak to vendors and eat some traditional Indigenous foods.
(Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)
In Sault Ste Marie, a new plaque was unveiled at the Algoma University campus to reflect its history as a former residential school that operated from 1875 to 1970.
The previous plaque from 1977 excluded facts about the true purpose of the school and misrepresented the experiences of Indigenous students, said Beth Hanna, chief executive officer for Ontario Heritage Trust. That’s a provincial agency that conserves, interprets and shares heritage.
Shingwauk Hall was one of the longest operating residential schools in Ontario. Read historian <a href=”https://twitter.com/storm9115?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@storm9115</a> new research, in consultation with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association. <br><br>(Note: This topic contains distressing details)<a href=”https://t.co/G1XqcZo83z”>https://t.co/G1XqcZo83z</a> <a href=”https://t.co/OUxZ51mTGM”>pic.twitter.com/OUxZ51mTGM</a>
Here is the new provincial plaque commemorating Shingwauk Hall. Working with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and <a href=”https://twitter.com/AlgomaU?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@AlgomaU</a> we updated the plaque to more honestly discuss the legacy of the former residential school. <a href=”https://t.co/EjIPq5sBBi”>https://t.co/EjIPq5sBBi</a> <a href=”https://t.co/rsJ1d4YSvq”>pic.twitter.com/rsJ1d4YSvq</a>
The streets of Montreal were a sea of orange on Friday, as thousands came together to mourn the children who died while attending residential schools and to celebrate the resilience of survivors, their families and communities.
At least seven events took place in the greater Montreal area, including the second annual march organized by the Native Women’s Shelter and Resilience Montreal.
(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
In Winnipeg, thousands of people clad in orange marched through the city’s downtown on Friday. Last year, roughly 10,000 people took part in the walk, but this year, organizers from the Way-Say Healing Centre hope for double that.
Meanwhile, at the city’s IG Field, both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders wore orange jerseys during warmup.
Warming up in Orange 🧡<br><br>📺 <a href=”https://twitter.com/TSN_Official?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@tsn_official</a>, <a href=”https://twitter.com/RDSca?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RDSca</a>, ESPN+<br>💻 <a href=”https://t.co/HoS9Wa2IIT”>https://t.co/HoS9Wa2IIT</a><br><br>Game Tracker 👉 <a href=”https://t.co/1CLF2Whd2A”>https://t.co/1CLF2Whd2A</a><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFLGameday?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CFLGameday</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/Wpg_BlueBombers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Wpg_BlueBombers</a> <a href=”https://t.co/i88IIvMqNi”>pic.twitter.com/i88IIvMqNi</a>
Hundreds of people attended a pilgrimage Friday in North Vancouver. Attendees walked from the site of the former St. Paul’s Residential School to the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation reserve, about 8.5 kilometres away.
It was one of numerous events across Metro Vancouver.
Many people in the North marked the day by donning orange and reflecting on the lives of Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools — including an event in Iqaluit, pictured below. Some schools in the North marked the day with events earlier in the week, since they’d be closed on the day itself.
In Whitehorse, a new crosswalk with three orange-and-white strips was unveiled at the intersection of Black and Front Streets, directly in front of the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. Two out of the three crosswalks proclaim “Every Child Matters” in English and Southern Tutchone with child-like hand prints to represent the children who went to residential school.
Doris Bill, chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, said for her, as a former residential school survivor, this day and the crosswalks are a form of reflection and remembrance.
(City of Whtiehorse/Northern Drone Services)
In Nova Scotia, Sipekneꞌkatik First Nation held a cultural event in Shubenacadie and unveiled a massive flag made up of 14,000 tiny orange flags at the former site of the Shubenacadie Residential School. Each flag represents a loved one who survived residential school or didn’t come home.
In New Brunswick, a day of remembrance ceremony was held at Sitansisk First Nation in Fredericton. Chief Allan Polchies said that when he saw the sea of orange shirts, it showed him people are becoming more aware of what has happened to Indigenous people in Canada.
The event included lighting of the fire, an opening prayer, a presentation of words, songs, a continental breakfast and a take-home craft kit.
Meanwhile, a prayer and smudging ceremony took place at the City Hall Plaza in Moncton. The ceremony, led by Elder Gary Augustine, brought attendees of all ages.
In Edmonton, Premier Jason Kenney on Friday signed an agreement with Leonard Bastien, elder and chair of the Manitou Asinîy-Iniskim-Tsa Xani Center, to return sacred artifacts that were taken by a missionary more than 150 years ago.
Bastien said the agreement to return the Manitou Stone, a 145-kilogram meteorite currently at the Royal Alberta Museum, to its home is significant and cause for celebration. “It’ll give us direction and a new pathway to moving forward,” he said.
The stone will soon make its home at a prayer centre in its original location near Hardisty, about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.
(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)
Meanwhile, a moment of silence was held at Fort Calgary on Friday. It was followed by elders speaking to hundreds of people gathered in the crowd about their time in residential schools.
(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)