OTTAWA, Sept. 23, 2022 – Friday, September 30 marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
This day provides an opportunity to bring awareness to the painful legacy and impact of the residential school system. It is a time to advance our reconciliation efforts to build a better future for everyone in our community.
The federal government established the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021 in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action #80(link is external). The Calls to Action(link is external) provide important direction for all levels of government, institutions and all Canadians to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation.
City of Ottawa Working towards reconciliation
The City says it continues to make progress towards our reconciliation commitments. Ottawa is built on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, and the Ottawa region is home to an estimated 40,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, alongside the Principles of Reconciliation Opens in a new tab or window(link is external), informed the development of the City’s first Reconciliation Action Plan in 2018, which included work aimed at raising cultural awareness for City staff.
In 2022, the City established a new Indigenous Relations Branch. This team works alongside Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to identify opportunities for systemic changes that improve access to programs and services. It also supports the City’s work to further reconciliation, including a renewal of the Reconciliation Action Plan.
How you can honour the day
On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we can learn and reflect on the meaning of this day by attending an event, reading the Truth and Reconciliation report, speaking and listening to Elders or taking a moment for quiet reflection. Reconciliation is a shared responsibility for all Canadians and requires action not just on this day but every day.
Here are some ways to observe and honour the day in Ottawa:
- Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance(link is external) – On Friday, September 30 from 10 am to noon at Parliament Hill, there will be a national gathering to honour Indigenous children and families impacted by residential schools. Visit the Remember Me website(link is external) for more information.
- Màmawi Together Survivors’ Gathering(link is external) – On Thursday, September 29 and Friday, September 30, hear the testimonies of survivors from Ottawa, Quebec and Northern Canada, take part in cultural and traditional celebrations and honour those impacted by the residential school system. Visit the Màmawi Together website(link is external) for more information and to register to participate in the scheduled activities.
- The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day at Beechwood Cemetery(link is external) – On Friday, September 30 from 9 am to 7 pm, attend an event hosted by the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation and the Project of Heart, the Assembly of 7 Generations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. The event includes a screening of the Spirit Bear and Children Make History short film and Reconciliation Tour. Visit the Beechwood Cemetery website(link is external) for more information.
In recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the flags at City Hall, including the Survivor’s Flag, and flags at all City facilities will be lowered to half-mast from sunrise on Friday, September 30 until sunrise on Saturday, October 1. Additionally, the following buildings will be illuminated in orange:
- Marian Dewar Plaza from sunset on Thursday, September 29 to sunrise Saturday, October 1
- Heritage Building, from sunset on Friday, September 30 to sunrise on Saturday, October 1
- OTTAWA sign in the ByWard Market, from sunset on Friday, September 30 to sunrise on Saturday, October 1
Wearing orange: a symbol of commemoration
Whether you’re attending an event or taking some time to learn on your own, we encourage you to wear an orange shirt on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to help spread awareness.
Friday, September 30 coincides with Orange Shirt Day(link is external), which honours the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at residential school.
The orange shirt has become a symbol of commemoration of the experiences of Indigenous children who were removed from their families to attend residential schools where their language and culture were repressed, and many children endured physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Last year, thousands of unmarked graves were discovered across Canada at former residential school sites. The work to uncover additional graves continues today in a number of Indigenous communities. In response to these discoveries, the Assembly of First Nations and other Indigenous groups organized a visit with Pope Francis where he offered an apology to survivors for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.
SOURCE City of Ottawa