As the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Treaty Day approach, communities across Canada are planning a range of meaningful events to commemorate this important day. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect in various Mi'kmaq communities around Cape Breton.
• Community Healing Walk: Potlotek First Nation is hosting a healing walk through the community, followed by a barbecue at noon.
MEMBERTOU, MAUPELTUEWEY KINA'MATNO'KUOM (MEMBERTOU SCHOOL), SATURDAY
• 2 p.m.: Truth and Reconciliation Day at Membertou School – Membertou will host several speakers, including residential school survivors.
• 3 p.m.: Commemorative walk around Membertou School, followed by a barbecue.
• The event is open to the public.
WE'KOQMA'Q, WE'KOQMA'Q COMMUNITY HALL, SATURDAY
• 1 p.m.: The We'koqma'q community will screen four videos featuring residential school survivors sharing their healing journeys.
• 2 p.m.: A special event at the Skye River Trail following the screening. Chief Annie Bernard-Daisley and Andrea Currie will deliver speeches before unveiling three statues:
1. The first sculpture is dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
2. The second sculpture honours We'koqma'q veterans.
3. The third sculpture, made through collaboration with residential school survivors, focuses on visualizing their healing journeys through art.
• 7 p.m.: The day will conclude with a vigil and march at the original residential school monument near We'koqma'q school.
Saturday, Eskasoni Healing Garden near the Eskasoni Health Centre
• Eskasoni First Nation, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
• 7 a.m.: Start your day with a Sunrise Ceremony.
• 9 a.m.: Join the community for breakfast at the Healing Garden.
• 11 a.m.: Take part in a healing walk to the Indian Residential School monument.
• 8 p.m.: The day will conclude with a community sweat.
Sunday, Sarah Denny Memorial Cultural Centre
• 5-8 p.m.: Supper by Eric Stevens, drumming by the Indian Bay Singers, ko'jua and waltes competition and live music and entertainment by the Blue Moose Band
NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day to honour, acknowledge and remember the victims of the residential school system. Residential schools operated from the 1830s until the last school closed in the 1990s. Indigenous children who attended the schools, some of whom were forced, were subject to extreme abuse and attempted forced cultural assimilation. The day aims to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.
Treaty Day, observed on Oct. 1, commemorates the agreements made between Indigenous peoples and the British and Canadian governments before and after confederation. These treaties established the relationship between the parties and codified the rights of Indigenous peoples. Treaty Day celebrates the ongoing partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and reaffirms the legitimacy of the treaties and history.
In Nova Scotia, Treaty Day honours the signing of the Peace and Friendship Treaties. These historic agreements marked the resolution of longstanding conflicts between the Mi’kmaq and the British and serve as a reminder of the Indigenous rights of the Mi’kmaq community and their connection to the Crown.
Mitchell Ferguson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous affairs for Cape Breton Post.
Mitchell Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post