The second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was highlighted in many ways in West Nipissing. The municipality led the way by closing its facilities for the day and asking staff and community members to wear orange and to reflect on what the day means. “Public awareness and education of the history and impacts of residential schools is a vital part of reconciliation. Please take the time to learn the truth about the ongoing effects of residential schools and to reflect on how we can continue to advance reconciliation,” town officials urged in a release.
On Sept. 30, an Every Child Matters flag was flown at the Municipal office in Sturgeon Falls and lights at the West Nipissing Power Generation dam were illuminated in orange, as a symbol of commemoration.
Many organizations and businesses observed the day by asking their staff to wear orange. Schools took part in various activities from crafts to marches to special presentations. Nipissing First Nation welcomed students from around the district for teachings, singing, dancing and drumming.
Gimaa (Chief) Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation made presentations in schools and, in the days following, to community groups. He also posted a video message on social media informing people of why it is important to acknowledge painful truths about Canada’s abuses of Indigenous people, and how we can work toward reconciliation.
“Nobody is holding you personally responsible for things that were done in the past, however it is all of our responsibility on how we deal with the past in order to move forward together in a positive and collective way. The biggest part of reconciliation is acknowledging and accepting the truth. Try imagining a heinous crime committed against you or someone you love. Now imagine that nobody acknowledged the truth that this crime even ever happened. Victims need the environment of acknowledgement and empathy in order to heal from their suffering.”
He recommended everyone learn more by reading the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and holding their elected officials accountable for implementing the committee’s 94 recommendations.