Yellowknife takes first Day of Truth and Reconciliation for quiet reflection

·2 min read
Kerry Galusha, left, with her daughter Sydney wear orange shirts to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Kerry says the day is important, but every day is a chance to learn about Indigenous history in this country.  (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)
Kerry Galusha, left, with her daughter Sydney wear orange shirts to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Kerry says the day is important, but every day is a chance to learn about Indigenous history in this country. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)

For Kerry Galusha, having a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for education.

On her way to the sacred fire at Somba K'e park, Galusha said she's thinking about her father, a residential school survivor.

"Today means a lot to us," she said, noting that every day is a chance to honour residential survivors and those who never came home.

"Today is of importance, but we learn all year about residential schools and what my father went through … it needs to happen every day."

Galusha, captain of the N.W.T. curling team, said she uses her social media to educate others who may not share her background.

"The word I use a lot is reconciliation, that's really important and that's what everyone's trying to move towards," she said.

In some Canadian cities, groups held marches and drum dances.

In Yellowknife, Dene Nation kept a sacred fire lit in Somba K'e park throughout the day, allowing residents to share in a prayer and tobacco offering.

Jennifer Escandon characterized the tone as reflective.

"It's nice to see that it's peaceful and quiet," she said, "I think it makes it more meaningful."

Natalie Pressman/CBC
Natalie Pressman/CBC

Escandon, who's lived in Yellowknife for six years, is originally from Colombia.

She said that moving to the N.W.T. has helped to create a more fulsome understanding of Canadian history, and to consider her own roots.

"We were also colonized by Spaniards, and I know it's a very different situation, but what I'm learning here is appreciating being a dark-haired brown person.

I'm appreciating being an immigrant and appreciating my culture and now I'm interested in my own indigenous people too."

The sacred fire was kept Thursday from sunrise to sunset. Attendees were in part dressed in orange to honour Phyllis Jack Webstad, whose favourite orange shirt was taken on her first day of residential school.

In a statement, Premier Caroline Cochrane acknowledged Webstad, and others like her.

"What she felt mattered. Every child matters," Cochrane wrote.

She called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a day create meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind.

"I hope you will take time today to listen to Indigenous voices and amplify their stories where possible."

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