Local municipalities mark first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Watch South Dundas Council’s Sept. 30th observance of Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, above, and South Glengarry, below.

SDG — The Day was established with the support of all parties in the House of Commons, and a number of local municipalities paused this week to commemorate the Indigenous children who were taken from their parents for generations and placed in residential schools.

“Although we are encouraged that Canada has begun to acknowledge and commemorate our [people] we know that there is still so much work that needs to be done,” said Kana:takon District Chief Tim Thompson at the Sept. 30th raising of the orange ‘Every Child Matters’ flag outside the South Dundas municipal office. “We encourage individuals from outside of indigenous communities to use today as an opportunity to learn more about the traumas that were forced on our people in an effort to eradicate us. And also to reflect on what you can do to help in the journey of reconciliation.”

“This is an encouraging day in Canada’s history where we take an important step to ensure a better future for Canada’s indigenous peoples,” said Mayor Steven Byvelds. “We cannot change the past, but we can learn from our mistakes by recognizing the pain and heartache that was caused. It is time for us to move forward together, toward a brighter future.

“On behalf of the Municipality of South Dundas, we raise the orange flag as a symbol of our respect and solidarity with our Indigenous communities.”

A similar scene played out in North Dundas,where staff and council wore orange shirts in support of the children who survived residential schools and in memory of those who did not. “It is more than just a single day event,” said North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser. “It is a step forward that we as Canadians need to take as we collectively recognize our history and learn from the stories of residential and day school survivors and their families.”

Established in the wake of the discovery of unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., earlier this year, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation builds on an Indigenous-led movement called Orange Shirt Day. For the last eight years, that Sept. 30th effort raised awareness about the legacy of the residential school system, taking its name from the story of a child whose orange shirt was confiscated by school staff.


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