The Executive Directors of Kahnawake organizations announced they voted unanimously to observe the new federal holiday slated for September 30 – but not for the same reasons as the federal government, Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said yesterday.
The September 30 holiday was instituted this year by the federal government as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but that’s not exactly why the community has decided to observe the holiday
The Executive Directors Committee (EDC), which represents nine community organizations, wishes to announce that they have unanimously declared a special day to honour the victims of Residential Schools.
Earlier this year, thousands of bodies have been unearthed from unmarked graves near Residential Schools across Canada.
“This is an important and long-overdue step by the federal government,” Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said. “This annual event, which aims to seek the truth and reconcile differences, will be a day for us to reflect upon the failures of the Canadian government, and to help educate the rest of Canada on the crimes and injustices their government imposed upon the First Peoples of this land,” she said, adding that the discoveries made at Residential Schools sites rocked both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians – and that merits observation, she continued. “The discoveries at several Residential Schools sites have shocked the entire country. On September 30th we are choosing to honor the memory of those victims lost or affected by this federally-mandated tool of systematic assimilation.”
The statutory holiday means that all offices and organizations in Kahnawake will be closed September 30. Essential services provided by each respective organization will remain in operation, but most will be closed.
Since 2013, September 30has been marked as Orange Shirt Day to honour and remember the thousands of Indigenous children who were taken to Residential Schools, and the families who suffered these traumatic losses.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase