Before more than 200 people gathered at Town Park on Thursday night to mark National Truth & Reconciliation Day, Council agreed that more needs to be done to foster healing.
On Tuesday, Council passed a motion from Councillor Sandra Humfryes calling on the Town to recognize National Truth & Reconciliation Day – a simple ask, but the discussion led to something more.
“The more we educate ourselves, families and friends, the more we pay homage to this important day,” said Councillor Humfryes in favor of her motion.
This principle was supported by Councillor Wendy Gaertner who opened the door to more action down the line.
“I think the intent of marking this day is to take a moment, a day, to hear stories and understand what we did through the Residential School system and to acknowledge it was wrong and atone for it,” she said. “It is an important day and I think we also need to honour those whose lives were taken; in fact, the [lives] that were stolen and honour survivors. But it is not enough. What we need to do is actions not words. Hopefully through educating our students, to give them a broader spectrum of the history of Canada would be an important first step. I believe that is starting to happen now, but anything else the Town can do in the form of action we must do it.”
Councillor Gaertner also underscored the “anger, guilt and sadness” often experienced by survivors, stating “it is important we respect their pain…and try to help them in any way we can.”
“I also wanted to express my support for it,” added Councillor John Gallo. “This is a start. By no means should we be doing this and forgetting about it because that is not what I want. It is a great start moving forward and reconciling the damage that was done. I fully support [this motion] and I look forward to bringing other great ideas to try and do our best to compensate and show compassion for what happened so that it never happens again.”
Having days of remembrance, noted Councillor Harold Kim, is “one of the most powerful ways of acknowledging the errors of the past and taking responsibility to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future and starting the healing process.”
On Thursday afternoon, Council members, joined by Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP-elect Leah Taylor Roy, gathered at Town Hall to raise a flag in honour of National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
In doing so, Mayor Tom Mrakas released a statement encouraging all Aurorans to “learn from our past and to build a better and more truthful future.”
“The terrible actions that were inflicted on the Indigenous Peoples of this land are a blight on our collective history and leave us with a painful legacy,” he said. “It is the duty of each of us to take this Day for what it is intended to be: an opportunity to learn, to grieve, to grow, and to reflect on who we are as individuals and as a community.
“It is not enough to be content with the status quo; we must commit to strengthening our understanding of our history, and our present, so that we can together build towards reconciliation.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran