National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

To the editor:

Last year the federal government passed legislation to mark Sept. 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Aboriginal Cultural Centre took the lead role in honouring this day within the North Thompson Valley.

This year, our second community-wide event will take place in Clearwater at Dutch Lake Community Centre on Friday, Sept. 30. Doors will open to the public at noon, with the welcome/acknowledgement at 1:00. There will be information, music, food, crafts, talking circles, healing circles, door prizes and so much more.

This will be a “free” community event and our hope is to have everyone, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, come together to learn, listen, and ask questions. Please take it upon yourself to learn why this day, Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day, is so important in moving forward as a community in a good way. Everyone is invited and welcome.

This community event is made possible by the dedicated hard work of the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, the Government of Canada for the grant to make this happen, our wonderful community volunteers, and our amazing community partners: Yellowhead Community Services, District of Clearwater, BC Metis Federation, TNRD, Simpcw First Nation, Kwseltkten Services, Banister, plus Michif Culture and Preservation Society. JJ Lavallee and his lovely wife Linda will travel from Vancouver on behalf of the BCMF team to support our community once again.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is designated as an opportunity to “recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.” It was originally proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which, under Action 80, called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish a statutory holiday “to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

You may already be aware that Sept. 30 has been observed since 2013 as Orange Shirt Day, a movement to recognize the colonial legacy of residential schools and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day recalls the experience of residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad who, at age six, was stripped of her shiny new orange shirt on her first day attending the St. Joseph Mission Residential School near Williams Lake, B.C. The date of Sept. 30 was chosen because it was the time of year when Indigenous children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.

I encourage all members of the North Thompson Valley communities to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, whether through personal reflection, education and awareness activities, or by participating in the community event at the Dutch Lake Community Centre on Friday Sept. 30.

Cindy Wilgosh

Clearwater, B.C.

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news@starjournal.net

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