All City of Kenora staff members will undergo special training next week, a move approved by city councillors, in honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and our shared Indigenous history in the Treaty #3 territory.

The federal government passed legislation to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday in June, one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 2015’s Calls to Action, to provide opportunities for federal workers to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.

While the Ontario government confirmed the day will not be a provincial statutory holiday earlier this month, staff with the City of Kenora have approved closing city facilities for half of the day on September 30, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this month, Director of Corporate Services for Kenora, Heather Pihulak, says the city has a full pathway of education planned for every municipal employee, as well as Mayor and Council. Each staff member will be given an Every Child Matters orange shirt to wear.

“Reconciliation is a priority for Council, as well as demonstrating leadership in the truth and reconciliation process,” wrote the City, in a prepared statement. “In this spirit, it is agreed that education is a positive step in building these relationships and understanding the journey that has affected so many.”

Additional Truth and Reconciliation Day events planned in the community include a Beads of Truth display at the Lake of the Woods Arts Centre and a Lunch and Learn session with team activities, traditional Indigenous food and time for employees to share their experiences.

As well, the Lake of the Woods District Museum will continue to host the ‘powerful’ and ‘moving’ “We were taught differently” display about the history of the Cecilia Jeffrey and St. Mary’s residential schools in the region.

If you are a residential school survivor, you are able to contact the 24-hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 for support.