September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, the nation day to recognize the experiences of residential school survivors, and it’s also the first ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. As Monday began, the City of Guelph issued a media release to residents that asks them take some time this week to think about the history and legacy of residential schools, and the families and communities who have have been affected by this tragedy.
“Guelph joins communities across Canada in marking National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I want to thank Guelph Museums and the Rotary Club of Guelph for offering meaningful opportunities to learn, share, and connect with the stories and history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. This is a significant moment in our journey towards truth and reconciliation,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement.
At city council on Monday night, Guthrie will ask his colleagues to pass a resolution for Municipal Recognition of September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, noting the 94 calls to calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, and the discovery of unmarked graves on former residential school properties.
“BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Guelph recognizes the importance of September 30th in honour of Truth and Reconciliation and commits to continued efforts to advance reconciliation including sharing the stories of residential school survivors, their families, and communities.”
“The experience of Indigenous children, their families and communities through colonialization and the residential school system is unimaginable for many of us,” added Chief Administrative Officer Scott Stewart. “The first step toward reconciliation is people knowing the truth—and that means researching, talking about what happened and connecting with Indigenous communities.”
As part of this week marking Orange Shirt Day and the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation City Hall, the Covered Bridge and the Guelph Civic Museum will be lighted in orange. Johnston Tower on the University of Guelph campus will also be lighted in orange, and the flags and the University Centre will fly at half-staff. These are part of a week-long series of events hosted by a variety of Guelph-based groups and organizations.
Rotary Club of Guelph
Hope and Healing: art installation by Tracey-Mae Chamber – Ongoing
From Guelph Museums: “Through a simultaneous interior and exterior art experience, Chambers uses red yarn to make connections between people, communities, and the environment. With this work, the artist responds to experiences of the pandemic, and discoveries of the remains of Indigenous children buried at former residential schools, through a decolonial art intervention.”
Where the Rivers Meet – Launches September 28
From Guelph Museums: “Where the Rivers Meet, a new display within the City Gallery, centres the Original Peoples who have been on this land since time immemorial. It includes information about migration, land relationship, treaties, impacts of colonization, and past and present-day perspectives. The new display also considers the founding story of Guelph within the context of a longer history lens.”
Anishinaabe Oral Tradition with Rene Andre Meshake – Thursday September 30, 2 pm
Meshake – who is an Anishinaabe elder, residential school survivor, visual and performing artist, award-winning author, storyteller, flute player, new media artist, and a Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal – will perform a combination of written and oral storytelling as well as accompanying music.
Royal City Park
Join the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre for their National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day Event featuring a sacred fire, drum circle, and crafts. This event is taking place on September 30 from 3:30-5:30 pm at the Sacred Fire at Royal City Park. Participants are encouraged to wear orange in solidarity.
University of Guelph
Commemorations will begin at 10 am on Thursday September 30 with a ceremony held outside the Summerlee Science Complex hosted by the Department of Integrative Biology’s Indigenous Belonging and Connections Committee.
Dan Smoke, a Seneca Nation from the Six Nations Grand River Territory, and Mary Lou Smoke of the Ojibway Nation from Batchawana on Lake Superior, will will lead a Honouring and Healing Together ceremony from noon to 2 pm. Members of the Indigenous Student Centre will also be perform drumming throughout the ceremony, and a sacred fire and tobacco offerings will be available.
The McLaughlin Library will also have a collection of fiction and non-fiction resources available from Indigenous authors and featuring Indigenous content. The University Centre Chef’s Hall will also prepare a menu of Indigenous food on Thursday that will feature Three Sisters Soup; salmon, sauteed leeks and mushrooms with cider cream; bison and root vegetable stew; wild rice pilaf; sweet potato mash; and bannock.