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. Indigenous people can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.
Canadians are all encouraged to wear orange and celebrate the second annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation tomorrow, with a number of events across the community taking place.
In Kenora, the day’s events begin with an Orange Shirt Walk at the former Cecilia Jeffrey school site at 237 Airport Road at 9 a.m., with everyone headed to the Whitecap Pavilion for lunch at 11 a.m. and Grand Entry at 1 p.m.
There, the community will take part in the second-annual Truth and Reconciliation Gathering and Powwow on the Harbourfront, with intertribals, giveaways and special events. Dinner will be provided at 5 p.m. with a free concert by Gator Beaulieu.
The Kenora Chiefs Advisory is also hosting a number of events at their Youth and Family Wellness Camp at 371 Strecker Road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with activities following the opening ceremony. Transportation services will also be available.
The City of Kenora notes that all city staff will be taking part in an educational journey tomorrow, which will close all city facilities between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will be a flag-raising ceremony, a live broadcast of the national gathering, and staff will later join events under the Whitecap.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Northern Development, Greg Rickford, says he’ll be one of the hundreds of residents taking part in the day’s events, and noted that Ontario will be hosting a flag-raising ceremony at the Legislative Assembly.
“We think this is an extraordinary opportunity. It’s one of the darkest chapters in Canada’s history, but we believe and we’re very grateful for the work that teachers are doing as students learn about this. It’s an important part of our history that we have to reconcile and try to move forward.”
September 30 is now known as Canada’s day of Truth and Reconciliation, but it began as ‘Orange Shirt Day’.
That tradition began after survivor of the St. Joseph Mission residential school, Phyllis Webstad, shared her story in 2013 of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day at the mission in 1973.
Canada passed legislation last year to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday, one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 2015’s Calls to Action, after the discovery of the 215 unmarked bodies in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.
The story made headlines around the world – forcing Canadians to finally face the horrors of our former residential school system.
For over 100 years, over 150,000 Indigenous youth were forcibly taken from their families to be assimilated into residential schools and settler culture, which included giving youth new names, haircuts and identification numbers.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation says over 70 Indigenous youth in the Kenora area died while attending two local residential schools.
The Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora was built in 1901 and ran until 1976 under the Presbyterian Church. St. Mary’s Indian Residential School was run by the Roman Catholic Church near the Devil’s Gap Marina until 1972.
Elsewhere in northwestern Ontario, Grassy Narrows leadership is searching the former McIntosh Residential School near Vermilion Bay, which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church for 44 years.
Records from the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre show at least 25 students passed away between 1941 and 1949, with causes of death only listed for 10 of the 25 students.
Members of the Nishnawbe AskI Nation are also searching the former St. Anne’s site in Fort Albany First Nation, one of the most notorious residential schools across the country.
It operated for 70 years with the use of a homemade electric chair, 4 workers were charged for their prior crimes as staff members, and records show at least 24 students passed away while attending the institution.