The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, honouring the impact of residential schools in the country, was held on Sept. 30.
While there were no formal events organized to mark the day, local municipalities, groups, schools and businesses announced their support by asking residents to observe two minutes and 15 seconds of silence and contemplation at 2:15 p.m. Everyone was encouraged to wear an orange shirt to show support for the day.
Back in August, the Kincardine BIA hung large orange and while bows throughout the downtown with a QR code directing people to a number of organizations that support Indigenous people in the community.
The Municipality of Kincardine, in a release, stated “the Municipality of Kincardine will stop to observe a moment of silence and reflect upon the historical and ongoing impacts of residential schools on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.”
“Education of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process - you can’t work towards reconciliation if you don’t understand the truth,” said Lorie Fioze, Municipality of Kincardine manager of strategic initiatives. “We invite businesses and residents across the municipality to join us learning the truth and observing a moment of silence on September 30 to reflect on this learning.”
In Kincardine, orange Every Child Matters flags and the Canadian flag were flown at half-mast during the week, and displays at the visitor centre, Davidson Centre, administration centre, Tiverton Sports Centre and the Kincardine cemetery offered information about the residential school system.
A release from the Township of Huron-Kinloss stated “Today we honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
The Every Child Matters flag was hung on community flag poles in the Township for the month of September and flew at half-mast on Sept. 30, in honour of the day.
Bruce Power announced on Sept. 30 that it had launched its Indigenous Champions program to its managers, to commemorate the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. Bruce Power’s executive team members were named as the first participants in the program, including CEO and president Mike Rencheck, Cathy Sprague, executive VP of Human Resources, executive VP and chief nuclear officer Chris Mudrick, executive VP of projects and engineering Eric Chassard, executive VP of finance and chief financial officer Kevin Kelly and James Scongack, chief development officer and executive VP of operational services.
“These leaders are champions because of the behaviours they exhibit every day,” said David Abbott, Bruce Power’s director of Indigenous relations and business partnerships. “They have been instrumental in supporting wealth creation opportunities within local Indigenous communities through business partnerships and unique hiring, training and development programs for Indigenous candidates. The spirit of the program is to increase cultural knowledge and engagement at an individual level. Every employee can participate though actions like incorporating Land Acknowledgement into meetings, attending Sharing Circles and cultural events, and wearing an orange shirt.”
It is estimated that approximately 150,000 Indigenous children, aged four – 16 years of age, were placed in Canadian residential schools between the 1860s and 1990s. The last residential school, located in Saskatchewan, permanently closed its doors in 1996.
“Today, we acknowledge the past and present wrongdoings towards Indigenous Canadians, particularly through the residential school system,” said South Bruce mayor Robert Buckle. “On behalf of Council and staff I encourage all South Bruce residents to take time to learn from history, and commit to putting Reconciliation into action in our community, today and on a regular basis.”
A crisis line is available for those who need assistance and can be accessed by calling the Indian Residential Schools crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent