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Dauphin Marks First National Day For Truth And Reconciliation

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A special afternoon was organized by the Dauphin Friendship Centre and the Government of First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory to recognize the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the site of the former McKay Residential School in Dauphin, Sept. 30.

Those present learned about the history of the facility and heard about how the system affected individuals and communities. All were encouraged to learn and engage in meaningful discussions about the residential school system and its tragic enduring legacy in our country.

The event also featured honour songs performed by North Wolf Ojibway Drum Group from Ebb and Flow First Nation, pow wow dancing demonstrations and two round dances honouring survivors of residential schools and those who died while in the system.

The afternoon wrapped up with a hot dog barbecue.

In June, the House of Commons passed Bill C-5, establishing a new federal statutory holiday, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to be observed on Sept. 30 annually starting this year.

The Manitoba government has also recognized this day as a day of observance to encourage reflection and meaningful discussions about the impacts of residential schools.

“Observing today is vital to memorializing residential school experiences, witnessing and honouring the healing journeys of survivors and their families, and committing to the ongoing process of reconciliation,” read a statement from Premier Kelvin Goertzen and Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere.

“National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is just one-step in the process to heal the relationship with Indigenous peoples by having meaningful discussions about the trauma Indigenous peoples and their families have faced and to build a bridge to a new, healthier, more positive and productive relationship.

“We all have a role to play in the reconciliation and healing process for Indigenous peoples who have suffered the physical and emotional trauma of the residential school system and with recent tragic discoveries on the grounds of residential schools across Canada makes this day even more significant.”

In 2017, Manitoba passed legislation to formally recognize Sept. 30 as Orange Shirt Day to encourage meaningful discussions about the trauma of residential schools.

Flags on all provincial government buildings were lowered to half-mast to align with long-standing protocol for all National Days of Observance.

Schools and non-essential government services and offices were closed for the day to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

At sunset, the Legislative Building was lit up with an orange Every Child Matters graphic to honour the children that never returned home from residential schools. The graphic was designed by Natalie Thiessen in partnership with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.

However, the province did not go far enough for Wab Kinew and the NDP, who called on the government to advance reconciliation by declaring the day a provincial statutory holiday.

“Manitobans want this day to be a time to reflect on Canada’s past and honour survivors and the children who never made it home. Having the day off work to learn and connect with communities is an important part of our path to reconciliation,” Kinew said. “That’s why we’re asking the PCs to make Orange Shirt Day a provincial statutory holiday. Every Manitoban has inherited the legacy of residential schools so every Manitoban should have time to learn and to heal as we move forward together.”

In 2017, Kinew passed a bill to recognize Orange Shirt Day in Manitoba. Since then, schools, workplaces and communities across the province have observed the day.

One of the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to establish a statutory holiday to honour survivors and reflect on the legacy of residential schools in Canada.

This year the Federal government made Sept. 30, a National Day of Observance, but left it up to provinces to declare it a statutory holiday.

While schools and government offices across Manitoba are closed, many workplaces remain open and childcare centers are making independent decisions.

“Orange Shirt Day is about honouring the children who were taken from their families. That’s why I hope all Manitobans can spend this day with their loved ones,” Kinew said. “The PCs need to take the next step to ensure everyone in our province - from Hydro workers to retail clerks - can spend Orange Shirt Day with their families, committing to reconciliation.”

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Staff Writer
REPORTER
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