Though Canada day festivities were enjoyed by many residents across
North Grenville, some residents chose to celebrate differently, or not
celebrate at all, this year. The identification of the remains of 215
children in Kamloops BC, 751 children on the Cowessess First Nation
SK, and 182 children in Cranbrook BC on the grounds of former state-
funded Residential Schools has prompted a time of reckoning.
Many North Grenville residents chose to wear orange this Canada
Day. Doing so was encouraged by the Ontario Native Women's
Association as a way to "recognize and honour the thousands of
Indigenous children forcibly taken to residential school, and as a tribute
to the resiliency of residential school survivors in Canada." The orange
shirt also represents a "call to all levels of government to implement all
Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action". Eleven year old Amelia,
who was watching the Paddlers' Poker Run, told me she and her family
donned orange shirts to "show that we honour First Nations and
respect them." Another resident explained that she wore an orange
shirt because it is time to "reflect on what's been found rather than
pretend like nothing happened."
Get Cronk'd Fitness Studio in downtown Kemptville made the decision
to donate to the Legacy of Hope Foundation, an Ottawa based charity
working to promote healing and educate on the history of Residential
Schools, rather than purchase their usual Canada Day decorations.
They also held a Canada Day class, from which proceeds were
donated to Legacy of Hope.
Diane Cronk explained that, "We're still proud to be Canadian. But we
would be remiss if we waved flags and celebrated. I think this is a time
for reflection. Hope. Showing the community that we care. This is a
really small way of doing that, but I think if everyone did a little bit, it
amounts to a lot...It would show that we understand, we're listening."
She went on to say, "We can't rewrite history, or undo the wrongs. But
we can certainly help the community recognize and reflect upon all
those terrible, unforgivable things that happened." Diane, with some
surprise, also noted that following her statement about this initiative,
the response on social media has been nothing but positive.
"Handprints of Homage", a group providing handprint kits on Canada
Day, sprung up as a way to "pay tribute to a brave generation of
children; children who were torn from their families by our own
Canadian government and individuals from religious organizations at
the time, for the simple fact that they were aboriginal." The initiative
provided children and families with non-toxic orange paint for kids to
mark their driveways or the parking lot at Riverside Park with
handprints. They are also offering ideas and suggestions for how
parents can talk to their children about Residential Schools and
Canada's colonial legacy. Acknowledging that North Grenville is built
on Algonquin soil, Handprints of Homage explain their initiative as, "a
tangible way for our kids to pay their respect and to embed the
message that the young lives lost have not been forgotten."
Flags at the Municipal Centre in Kemptville have been at half-mast in
remembrance of the Indigenous children who continue to be found in
unmarked graves at former Residential School sites across the
country. Mayor Nancy Peckford issued a statement: "Canada Day
should be one of reflection and remembrance. It's an opportunity for all
of us to thoughtfully examine what it means to be Canadian, and
understand our country's extensive Indigenous roots and the racism
that still exists today." She went on, "Learning more about Indigenous
leaders and the many cultures that now comprise this country is
For more information, visit the Ontario Native Women's Association
website at www.onwa.ca or, like Get Cronk'd, consider donating to the
Legacy of Hope Foundation at www.legacyofhope.ca
If you or a member of your family is a survivor of a residential school,
you can call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-
866-925-4419 for support.
Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times