Three North Island First Nations are teaming up on Sept. 30 to raise awareness for Truth and Reconciliation Day.
The Kwakiutl, Gwa-sala-‘Nakwax’daxw, and Quatsino First Nations are hosting a march in Port Hardy from the high school down to Carrot Park at 11:00 a.m., where lunch will then be provided.
The bands said in a statement they are coming together to “raise awareness and to honour our Residential School Survivors as well as to remember those who never made it home. We want to uplift our children. Our future. Be together today for our children tomorrow.”
They added that COVID safety protocols will be followed. If attending, please wear a mask, sanitize, and follow social distancing guidelines.
In July 2021, the federal government announced it had designated Sept. 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a statutory holiday for federal employees and federally regulated workplaces.
While the day will not be a provincial statutory holiday, the B.C. government is directing “public schools… post-secondary institutions, research universities, Crown corporations and B.C. government offices,” to close.
Creating a national day of recognition was one of the 94 recommendations given by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and comes as unmarked graves continue to be discovered at the sites of former residential schools across Canada.
The last day in September was chosen as a nod to Orange Shirt Day, created in 2013 by Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation member Phyllis Webstad in remembrance of the children who attended residential schools.
In a statement to Black Press Media, a representative from the B.C. government explained the holiday invites B.C. residents to “learn more about the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools (and) have important conversations with their families, their friends, and their communities.”
Most private sector workplaces and businesses will remain open unless they individually choose to close for the day.
“Recognizing Sept. 30 this year is an interim measure while the Province begins to engage with Indigenous partners and the business and labour communities to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate this day going forward,” the statement added.
All public school and post-secondary institutions in B.C. have formally announced their Sept. 30 closures. BC Transit will maintain its regular service, and essential workplaces — like hospitals — will still be available.
To learn more about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website at nctr.ca.
– with files from Black Press