Wondering how to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Civic leaders share what they’ll be doing and offer suggestions for marking Canada’s new observance

A makeshift memorial to children taken to residential schools was placed in Sylvia Grinnell Park over the summer. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

By Nunatsiaq News

Wearing orange is an obvious starting point. But what else is there to do to observe the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

On Thursday, Canadians will be marking a new observance on the calendar. Parliament passed a law in June, designating Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Before a vote in the Senate, Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson suggested the new holiday be treated like Remembrance Day — a time to pause and reflect on the Indigenous lives lost at residential schools.

It’s a new holiday, so to give readers some ideas about how to observe it themselves, Nunatsiaq News asked some leaders what they will do to observe the day and what suggestions they would give to others.

Governor General Mary Simon (Photo courtesy of Rideau Hall)

Governor General Mary Simon , Canada’s first Indigenous governor general: Reconciliation is a way of life, continuous, with no end date. It is learning from our lived experiences and understanding one another. It is creating the necessary space for us to heal. It is planting seeds of hope and respect so that our garden blooms for our children.

As we strive to acknowledge the horrors of the past, the suffering inflicted on Indigenous peoples, let us all stand side-by-side with grace and humility, and work together to build a better future for all.

Senator Dennis Patterson (file photo)

Senator Dennis Patterson: On Thursday, Sept. 30, I will be attending the community walk [in Iqaluit] being organized by NTI and the QIA to mark the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

As I said during the passage of this bill in June, this should be a sombre day of reflection and acknowledgement of the atrocities and ongoing intergenerational trauma caused by the devastating residential school policy.

There are many ways to achieve this, such as joining community events, reading the accounts of victims or taking the time to speak with our youth about this darker chapter from Canadian history.

I encourage people to seek out the many free resources available online.

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell (File photo)

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell: This is a day to recognize the history and legacy of residential schools as it pertains to the progression of reconciliation for Inuit and other Indigenous communities to ensure that they are honoured and supported. We recognize the profound and long-lasting traumatic impact that residential schools had on Inuit and other Indigenous communities, their families, as well as the countless injustices and pain that communities had to endure. Reconciliation is collective accountability for all Canadians and requires action not just today, but every day.

I plan to honour residential school survivors and their families by participating in the community walk held by QIA and NTI at 1 p.m., showing support and spreading awareness by wearing orange — a symbol of remembrance for all Inuit and Indigenous children who were stolen from their families. I’ll also help pass out cake from the Market Place (Co-op) at 3:45 p.m. and by continuing to educate my children about Inuit and Indigenous history and culture.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami will mark the day by live-streaming a special event and participating in a walk organized by NTI in the afternoon.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Party night on

    It should be a day of respect and remembrance, and even protest. Sadly in Iqaluit last night it was just another house party night…..

  2. Posted by BC Senator on

    Nice to see Senator Patterson decided to take a vacation to Nunavut.

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