5 Ways to Celebrate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in London, Ont.
All over London, Ontario, gatherings are taking place to mark the second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, on Friday, September 30.
This day honors Indigenous children who were forced to attend residential schools across Canada – survivors, those who died and those affected by the lasting trauma.
“It’s a day to honor residential school survivors and survivors of different generations,” said Alana Pawley, knowledge sharing coordinator at Atlohsa Family Healing Services.
“For me it’s a very meaningful day. It’s a hopeful day in a way,” said Pawley, a Chippewas member of Nawash First Nation. “I have relatives who have been affected by day schools, so it’s also a very difficult day — also a day of healing and education.”
It is also a time for both indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together to decide how to move forward together and support each other, she said.
“It’s up to all of us to decide what this day means. That’s what reconciliation is about.”
Lighting the fire & gathering, 7am and 10am
Atlohsa Family Healing Services host a meeting in honor family members past and present and honor native culture with drumming, jingle dress and smoke dancing, language workshops and more at The Green in Wortley Village.
The day starts with the lighting of the fire at sunrise, followed by a meeting from 10am to 3pm
Lighting the fire is an Anishinaabe practice “which helps to greet the new day, give thanks and pray for the work we are about to undertake,” Pawley said. “The reason we do that is that everything that unfolds for the day is guided by the spiritual world.
“The day is open to all, so all are welcome to participate in the spirit of reconciliation,” she said.
The meeting is in partnership with the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Chippewa Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Center.
Ceremonial Nibi Walk – 7am
A youth-led Nibi Walk begins at 7 a.m. at the Residential School Memorial, built in honor of the thousands of children forced to attend Mount Elgin Industrial Institute on Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.
Walkers and runners embark on a 20-mile (32-kilometer) journey to Ivy Park in central London, some taking part in relay events along the way.
“This walk is designed to help as part of the healing process by counteracting the violent ripple effects that come from the impact of the residential school system,” Tracey Whiteye of N’Amerind Friendship Center told CBC News.
“[It] is about the truth about the impact that residential schools continue to have on Canada’s indigenous peoples,” she said.
Unveiling mural, 2 p.m.
A mural by Ojibway artist Mike Cywink, inspired by the stories of residential school survivors, will be unveiled outside the N’Amerind Friendship Center at 260 Colborne St. in London at 2 p.m.
The mural, titled “We are still here,” was painted on seven 12-foot-tall panels with the help of student artists to raise awareness about the history of Canadian residential schools and celebrate Indigenous art, culture, knowledge and history.
“If people drive by and see the Friendship Center, they will see friendship, peace and stories. And that’s the truth and the reconciliation that we continue to work on,” Whiteye said.
The event will feature a jingle dress healing ceremony by Eagle Flight Singers, with a smoke dance and Delaware skin dance led by Lotunt Honyst of Oneida of the Thames.
Deantha Edmunds Concert, 12:30 PM
Canada’s first classical Inuk singer, Deantha Edmunds, along with composers Catherine Magowan and Spy Dénommé-Welch will perform a concert at Western University‘s Paul Davenport Theater with a live stream.
The program features musical works Sojourn and RADAR written by composer Magowan and Dénommé-Welch, Algonquin-Anishnaabe Associate Professor at Western and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Knowledge Systems and Education.
The concert commemorating the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is part of The Don Wright Faculty of Music’s “Fridays at 12:30” concert series. AQ&A period follows at 13:30
Read native voices
The London Public Library encourages Londoners to center Indigenous voices through release reading lists for all ages in honor of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Some choices for kids include: It’s a Mitig! by London-based illustrator and children’s author Bridget George, and we all play by Cree-Métis author Julie Flett.
Reading recommendations for adults include: Seven Fallen Feathers by Anishinaabe journalist Tanya Talaga and a book on Indigenous women, work and history by Mary Jane Logan McCallum, a member of Munsee-Delaware Nation.
The library will be closed in honor of the holiday, but regular opening hours will resume on Saturday.