Local municipalities of Melancthon, Southgate and Grey Highlands have all passed motions recognizing the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
They also will take actions including spreading the word on social media and lowering flags to half-mast. Grey County council passed a similar motion and will lower its flag to half mast and fly an “Every Child Matters” flag to acknowledge the day.
Another step each of these councils is involved in is consulting to develop land acknowledgement statements to be used in their public meetings.
The Grey County Warden in a press release called the formal recognition of Sept. 30 a step on the journey toward reconciliation. “All Canadians and all levels of government have a role to play,” said Grey County Warden Selwyn ‘Buck’ Hicks.
“We are committed to doing our part as a County to create opportunities for education about the history and legacy of residential schools, the traditional lands we live on, and cultures of Indigenous peoples.”
The Grey County museum, Grey Roots, has acknowledged its responsibility “to present the truth of history in Canada, even when that history is unjust and disturbing.”
In August, Grey Roots says it began working with members of local indigenous communities on a display for the entrance of its permanent gallery to show how the settlement on local Indigenous lands was related to the treaty process.
As well, the museum offered a page of resources and links to aids such as stories from survivors of residential schools and to the Ojibway Nation explanation of treaties in the area that is now Grey-Bruce.
There is also a link to the Remember Me livestream from Ottawa on Sept. 30. It is being organized by Indigenous women to commemorate those affected by the residential school program with its removal of children from their homes and communities and everything that followed, including cases of ill treatment and extreme abuse.
Other museum resource links include the Ojibwe Peoples Dictionary, the Assembly of First Nations Toolkits and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports.
The holding of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation itself is one of the recommendations of that 2015 report.
Its purpose is to honour those affected by the legacy of residential schools and make sure that the history is a “vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Since 2013, Sept. 30 has been Orange Shirt Day, inspired by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad. She recalls that at age six, she was stripped of her brand-new orange shirt on her first day attending the St. Joseph Mission Residential School near Williams Lake, B.C.
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald