Halton Region Marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a Sunrise Ceremony

By: Laura Steiner/ Local Journalism Initiative
Some of the issues discussed below may be distressing for some readers.  If you are in need, please contact the Residential Schools crisis line at: 1-866-4419.  

The Region of Halton started the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day with a Sunrise ceremony.  The event was hosted by the Region’s Indigenous Advisor Eddy Robinson.  Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation also attended.
“We observe the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day in Halton to show respect, raise awareness and continue to have meaningful conversations about Indigenous history. culture People and in particular, Residential Schools,” Chair Gary Carr said.  The federal government proclaimed the statutory holiday earlier this year to coincide with Orange Shirt Day; an initative that started in 2013.
The Region voted to officially recognizing September 30 as a holiday at last month’s council meeting.  They voted to endorse the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report & their calls to action, as well as the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) earlier this year.  The Region has also committed to a formal Land Acknowledgement statement where appropriate, and permanently flying the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.  Learn more about the Region of Halton’s commitment to building relationships with Indigenous Peoples here
Milton Walks for Residential School Survivors
Grandmothers’ Voice held a day-long program focusing on survivors of the Residential Schools.  Events included a luncheon, and a Facebook Live with the survivors from the Mohawk Institute Residential School.
The public program featured a walk from 3-5pm through the grounds at Country Heritage Park.  It was led by survivors, joined by Milton Residents of al ages dressed in orange.  The walk lasted 1.5 kms ending at a barn high up on the property facing the 401 with a billboard reading “Bring Our Children Home.”

A clear message from Grandmothers Voice on a barn facing the 401

In a pasture opposite the barn, organizers directed the crowd to form concentric circles with adults surrounding the children.  They sang songs reaffirming the promise to always protect the children.  The walk ended near the entrance, where those who attended could walk through the healing garden or head inside where there were pamphlets, books, and displays on the history of Residential schools.
The schools opened in Canada in 1876, run and funded by the Government of Canada, and the organized churches.  The last was closed in 1996.  In June, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc announced that they had found what appeared to be the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Residential School near Kamloops B.C.  The final TRC report estimates 3,200 children died at the schools.  The number of recovered remains is believed to be more than double at 6,509. A search of the Mohawk Institute Residential School is expected to begin later this month.  It closed in 1970.