Here’s what’s going on in Nunavut and beyond for Truth and Reconciliation Day
Friday is a statutory holiday in Nunavut; schools are closed for the holiday in Nunavik
Communities across Nunavut are marking this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with traditional feasts, bonfires and plenty of opportunity for personal reflection.
Friday marks the second time Canada is observing the holiday, also known as Orange Shirt Day. Nunavut passed legislation this year to designate it a statutory holiday, although it is not a legal holiday in Nunavik.
Several northern communities, some of which received funding from the federal government, have been hard at work planning events for their residents. From ceremonies and speakers to community walks and country food, here is what is happening across Nunavut and in Kuujjuaq.
Building on the community bonfire held to observe the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Cambridge Bay significantly expanded its activities this year to include a full week of in-person events, workshops and radio shows planned around the theme of “We want to heal and thrive.”
Although many of the events have already taken place, residents are encouraged to bring their qulliq to the community hall between 5 and 8 p.m. Friday for a “Healing through the Qulliq” community feast.
The wellness department is inviting members of the community to gather Friday at the elementary school gym from 7 to 11 p.m. to engage with guest speakers who will reflect on the residential school system and teach younger generations how it continues to affect people today.
No gathering would be complete without a community feast, so traditional food purchased within the community will be on hand, along with throat singers, drum dancers, square dancers and the Gjoa Band.
The recreation committee organized a local radio show that took place Monday to talk about details surrounding National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which included a mental health worker as part of the conversation for community members in need of additional support. The committee has also planned a community feast, scheduled for Friday, where country food will be served.
Local events provide important opportunities for community members to honour the victims and survivors, and also look ahead to the future, said Pond Inlet Mayor Joshua Arreak.
Speaking by phone, Arreak expressed his hope that everyone who participates in the events, including children and youth, are reminded of what happened at residential schools, but that the community “must find a way to forgive and move forward.”
Iqalummiut are invited to join the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Friday for a walk from the Igluvut Building to Iqaluit Square in observance of the holiday. Premier P.J. Akeeagok will participate in the walk, and in a statement Thursday he encouraged Nunavummiut to observe the day “in a safe and supportive environment.”
Events will begin at the Igluvut Building at 1 p.m. with a distribution of orange shirts, followed by a moment of silence. The event will end at the square with a candy toss, which will continue until 3:30 p.m.
The Hamlet of Coral Harbour has planned events for students, as well as the rest of the community.
Students were encouraged to wear their orange shirts to school on Thursday, where a small commemorative event with snacks and lunch was planned. On Friday, everybody is invited to gather at noon at the community hall to connect, reflect and then enjoy a community feast.
Although Quebec has not chosen to legislate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday, the northern village of Kuujjuaq will recognize the day with a walk around the community and activities to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools. The event is organized and hosted by Jaanimmarik School staff and students.
Schools in Nunavik are closed Friday, and all activities in Kuujjuaq were scheduled for Thursday.
In Ottawa, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon will welcome 100 school children into her home at Rideau Hall, where she will speak about the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Following that, she will deliver remarks at Remembering the Children, the national commemorative event being co-hosted and broadcast by APTN in partnership with fellow co-host the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.