Several communities in our area will honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday.
Sept. 30, also known as Orange Shirt Day, pays tribute to Indigenous children who died in Canada’s residential school system.
The Wahta Mohawk Territory invites local residents to join its Every Child Matters commemoration.
At noon, participants will walk from the Wahta Mohawks Administration Office to its Cultural and Healing Centre, hanging homemade signs along Muskoka Road 38. At 1:30 p.m., the centre will host a gathering with food, drumming, and messages of remembrance.
In Huntsville, the town will host its second annual Orange Shirt Day March and Gathering. The silent march starts at 1:00 p.m. from the parking lot behind town hall, going to River Mill Park.
At 1:30 p.m., Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano will deliver the town’s land acknowledgement statement, with a prayer and smudging ceremony by Mohawk woman and Huntsville resident Joyce Crone.
Crone, as well as local Indigenous youths Sully Sprathoff and Micah McLeod, will then give speeches.
Crone says McLeod, who is a part-Métis elementary school student, will “speak from the heart” on what the day means to him. Sprathoff, an Upper Mohawk university student, will speak about the experience of Indigenous young adults.
“The people who are speaking represent the voices of the future. Children are speaking on behalf of the lost children of Canada, speaking on behalf of the children who have yet to be found,” says Crone. “So I think it’ll be very touching, very emotional. Hopefully people will walk away feeling differently, and thinking ‘what can I do to create change in our community’.”
Crone adds the ceremony will also involve a traditional Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, Thanksgiving address. She says the day is very meaningful to Indigenous people.
“For me, as an Indigenous woman living off of my reserve, it just means a remembrance of the children and their families,” says Crone. “My grandfather attended residential school. On both sides of my family, I have ancestors who attended a residential school.”
Crone has also put up another art installation at The Great Vine on Main St. to honour the day.
In Bracebridge, Qalipu Mi’kmaq artist and Indigenous healer NisoMakwa will smudge over an orange Survivors Flag, which will be raised at 10:00 a.m. in front of town hall. The Bracebridge Falls will be lit up in orange that night.
Local musicians Section 53, which includes two Indigenous members, will perform at the Bracebridge Library from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m..
In Muskoka Lakes, the municipal office will raise the Every Child Matters flag, and will be lit up in orange every night until Oct. 2. At 11:00 a.m., the Port Carling Public Library will host crafting activities.
Lake of Bays will host an “awareness walk” at its municipal office at 11:00 a.m..
Crone invites everyone to wear orange and come to the Huntsville event, or whatever is closest to them.
“The more people we have come out, the more education there is for you to go home, sit, and talk about it at your dinner table,” says Crone. “I think the day is an important one to mark, and an important day to take notice, come out, and represent your family and your community.”