Schools, businesses, and community organizations marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with events and activities all through last week. 

The designated day is September 30.

The Lakeland Society for Truth and Reconciliation held a Week of Commemoration with blanket and ribbon skirt workshops, a tour of the former Blue Quills residential school near St. Paul, and teaching and cultural activities in Bonnyville on the weekend.

In Cold Lake, 4 Wing Military Family Resource Centre invited Cold Lake First Nations Chief Kelsey Jacko and other speakers to share local history as told from the Indigenous perspective. This was followed by a dance performance and demonstration from Kehewin Native Dance Theatre, and a display of Susie O’Connor’s “Red Series” photographs.

The Mannawannis Friendship Centre in St. Paul held special ceremonies and activities, as did St. Paul Family and Community Support Services.

Cold Lake Museums opened for the day on Saturday and hosted a talk by Lynda Minoose in its Indigenous Gallery.

Students in the Lakeland joined others across the country in wearing orange on Thursday to mark the day and to recognize the spirit of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, in particular over the issue of Indian Residential Schools.

There were many other activities throughout the region.

“Orange Shirt Day” began as an unofficial observance in 2013, inspired by the story of Phyllis Jack Webstad. As a six-year-old on her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school in Williams Lake, BC, Webstad’s own clothes—including the orange shirt her grandmother had made for her—were confiscated from her and never returned.

The federal government proclaimed the first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021.

This painting was displayed prominently at Blue Quills Residential School. It depicted “the wrong way” and “the right way” as “The Red Way” and “The White Way.” JEFF GAYE
A military member pauses in front of a Red Series photo at 4 Wing MFRC. Corporal Curie and Corporal Brock Curtis, 4 Wing Imaging
Lakeland Truth and Reconciliation Society tour group at the main entrance to Blue Quills. JEFF GAYE
Orange Shirt Walk, Bonnyville. JEFF GAYE
The chapel at Blue Quills is now a library. JEFF GAYE
An Alex Janvier painting at Blue Quills. Janvier was sent to the school at the age of eight. JEFF GAYE
Blue Quills survivor Palma Quinney shows the tour the former girls’ shower room. JEFF GAYE
Kehewin Native Dance Theatre taught and entertained. Corporal Curie and Corporal Brock Curtis, 4 Wing Imaging

Agnes Gendron spoke to 4 wing personnel at MFRC (right).. Corporal Curie and Corporal Brock Curtis, 4 Wing Imaging
Quinney and the tour in the Blue Quills gym. JEFF GAYE
Children from Blue Quills Residential School appear to be looking out from historical photos over Lynda Minoose’s shoulder as she speaks to a full room at Cold Lake Museums’ Indigenous Gallery on Saturday. JEFF GAYE