Woodland Cultural Centre, City of Brantford and County of Brant are honouring victims of the residential school system during the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, September 30.
The statutory holiday was created to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors, their families and communities, and to provide the important opportunity to remember the victims of the Residential School System and to reflect on the lasting impacts on Residential School survivors, their families and Indigenous communities.
The new statutory holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day, inspired by the story of Phyllis Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at residential school. Wearing orange on September 30 honours and remembers the experiences and loss of Indigenous children who were placed in residential schools.
Woodland Cultural Centre is hosting a series of virtual events, beginning with a Thanksgiving address where children will be guided through the Thanksgiving Address with elder Tehahenteh Miller, and lead a discussion on the importance of gratitude.
The Centre will also host a virtual tour of the Mohawk Institute, which will be led by Lorrie Gallant as she guides viewers around the former Mohawk Institute Residential School. Gallant will provide the history of the institution and its 140 years of operation. Viewers will see the different rooms from the girls’ and boys’ dormitories, the cafeteria, laundry room, and other rooms throughout the building. The video also includes interviews with five survivors.
The final program will be a presentation about truth and reconciliation and focus on raising awareness of the tragic history of the residential school system. It will examine the history and policies that lead to the creation of the Residential Schools, their legacies, how they have impacted Indigenous people, and why truth and reconciliation is important.
While the Woodland Cultural Centre is focusing on teaching residents about the history of residential schools, County of Brant is honouring victims as County flags will be lowered to half-mast, an “Every Child Matters” flag will be raised at the downtown Paris location and the Paris dam will be lit orange.
The County of Brant Public Library will also feature a series of truth and reconciliation events, including: A Storybook Walk of the children’s book Phyllis’s Orange Shirt, written by Phyllis Webstad; illustrated by Brock Nicol. The story will be placed in Lions Park in Paris and will be available starting at 10:00 am and will remain up until 8:00 pm. Families are invited to visit the park and read the story. There will also be activities for children that will be available for pick up at any of the library branches. The ‘Every Child Matters: My Orange Shirt’ allows children to create and design their own orange shirt, then colour, cut-out and display.
City of Brantford is offering Indigenous-themed programming at Kids Night Out on Thursday, September 30 at Woodman Park Community Park and the Harmony Square fountain, as well as, the Sanderson Centre marquee will be lit up in orange to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.