Events were held in the Lakeland and across the country on Friday to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day is also referred to as Orange Shirt Day in recognition of the suffering inflicted by Residential Schools. It referes to the experience of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who as a 6-year-old had her orange shirt taken from her on her first day of school.
“I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine!” she would write later. “The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
Local events on Friday included acts of remembrance and reflection about the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada, and the policy’s ongoing legacy of trauma. Many events included a coming together of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people as a step toward mutual understanding and reconciliation.
In Bonnyville, the Lakeland Society for Truth and Reconciliation organized a full day of events including a teepee raising and blessing; workshops on hoop dancing, theatre, and Métis jigging; an Orange Shirt walk down Main Street; and speakers and performers.
L’ACFA Régionale de St-Paul coordinated an art event at Lions Park in downtown St. Paul, featuring work by Herman Poulin, Eric Spoeth, Missy Finlay, and Dana Smyl. Music was provided by Roland Poitras.
The City of Cold Lake held a ceremony to raise the Treaty Six flag and the Métis flag. These flags will fly at City Hall permanently.
The establishment of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was among the 94 Calls to Action included in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Justice Murray Sinclair. The holiday was observed for the first time last year.