You can spot them as you drive around Prince Edward County, waving in the wind, most of them thread bare from the elements and most permanently faded from an unrelenting sun. There’s still a good build up along both sides of East Lake Road and in other little local communities where sometimes an orange shirt is replaced by an orange ribbon.
An act of individual remembrance to ensure fellow Canadians don’t forget what we’ve ignored for over a century and what the Indigenous people of this land have lived with for the same amount of time.
Today mark’s Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation day, a federal statuary day of remembrance of the horror Indigenous families suffered by a Residential School System designed to obliterate the culture of the people that occupied this land well before Europeans arrived.
The Canadian government established this day back in June in response to the Call to Action #80 from the 2015 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states:
“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.”
Canadians are also encouraged to wear orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of Canada’s residential school system and throughout the week, students at schools in Prince Edward County have been wearing orange shirts and articles of clothing in solidarity with this initiative. Orange Shirt Day originated as a result of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and reunion events in 2013 in Williams Lake, BC.
Despite the fact there isn’t a provincial element to this day of observance where most would stop our regular activities, the ability to pay a solemn moment or two in remembrance of those lives lost and communities irreparably harmed in the name of colony building is totally within our collective grasp.
Tonight a free Truth & ReconciliACTION concert is being held at the Regent Theatre at 8 p.m and in addition to being an in-person gathering, the event will also be lived streamed.
The circle of Friends at St. Andrew’s are organizing a “Walk for Wenjack” in support of the Downie Wenjack Fund and more information can be found at downiewenjack.ca/our-work/walk-for-wenjack/ or by emailing Karen at email@example.com.
Today’s first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation may or may not move the mountain of guilt or shame many of settlers felt after the discovery at Kamloops or the thousands more of unmarked and mass graves at Canadian Residential Schools throughout the summer But we have it within ourselves to start an internal dialogue by actively participating in the act remembrance, researching full accounts of the history of how Canada was built and then through connecting with those who continue to be harmed by the policies of yesterday and today.
Reconciliation at this point seems like climbing to the sun so lets start with Truth.
Listen to the stories. Take them to heart. The path will be hard and it will take generations to traverse.
But the journey can and must start today.
PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY