This year’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation comes on the coattails of a Federal Election, and before that almost weekly news about unmarked graves being discovered on the property of old residential schools. Like a lot of communities across Canada, Guelph promised to do better, and thousands came out to march to show their commitment. So how are we doing this September 30?
The last day of September has been known for years as Orange Shirt Day. The name comes from Phyllis Webstad, a member of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation who wore a nice, new orange shirt on her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School. The shirt was promptly taken away and never returned, a metaphor for the treatment of Indigenous people at all residential schools where kids were stripped of their language, their culture, their identity, and, in many cases, their lives.
The story itself though is terribly personal, and it makes you wonder: While we struggle with the huge weight of history, are each of us, on a personal level, doing everything we can to be a good friend and ally to Indigenous communities? The podcast host puts himself to the test this week with the help of Bruce Weaver, a Mohawk elder and valued member of the Guelph community who’s always helping to guide the local discussion about Truth and Reconciliation.
Bruce Weaver actually suggested the various topics we discuss on this week’s podcast, and we cover them the best we can including the proper protocols when a reporter is asking an Indigenous person for comment, and how some Indigenous customs are weary of the deadlines of modern journalism. We also talk about how even good natured attempts at outreach can fall into colonialist patterns, and how we can keep territorial acknowledgments meaningful.
So let’s have a more personal conversation about Truth and Reconciliation on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
There will be a number of activities and events on Thursday to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation including a ceremony on Johnston Green, a demonstration of Anishinaabe oral traditions at the Guelph Civic Museum, and activities hosted by the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Royal City Park. You can get all those details here.
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