Iqaluit remembers: ‘It’s their strength – that’s why we’re here’
Ceremony marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Iqalummiut gathered to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
Meant to recognize the tragic legacy of the residential school system — in which an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend between the 1830s and early 1990s after being taken from their families — the day is designated a statutory holiday in Nunavut.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association hosted a walk from the Igluvut Building to Iqaluit Square to recognize and pay respects to Indigenous survivors of residential schools, their families and communities from across the country.
On what was a cold, wet, snowy day in Iqaluit, the ceremony included a moment of silence for victims of the residential school system as well as a community parlak, or candy toss.
“Today is really the reflection of the pain that people felt through residential schools,” Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok told the crowd.
“And I want to thank the survivors that are here with us, such as Jack Anawak [who was a flag bearer for the walk]. It is through their resilience that we are here today. And I think it’s important to acknowledge although it was a difficult moment in our history, it’s their strength — that’s why we’re here.”
The gathering lasted for about an hour, and orange T-shirts were distributed to help mark the day, which is also known as Orange Shirt Day in tribute to the children who were lost or harmed at the schools.
Sen. Dennis Patterson, who also attended, said the day “is a path to reconciliation.”
“This is what it means to me — getting Canada to understand what happened and support efforts to move forward positively with new beginnings, new respect, new hope.”