Turning reflection into meaningful action on September 30 and beyond
Guelph, Ont., September 22, 2022— The City is encouraging municipal employees and the community to reflect on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 and to take an active part in the reconciliation process throughout the year.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 95 calls to action include a call for all levels of government to provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous Peoples, including the history and legacy of Residential Schools and more.
While National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a municipal or provincial holiday, honouring the day is part of the call to action for all levels of government. Earlier this month, the City leveraged Welcoming Week events to provide newcomers with information about the Indigenous history of the land we call Guelph, including the City’s Territorial Acknowledgement, in their first language. Sharing this information with newcomers is another of the TRC’s calls to action.
“We know the impact colonization and Residential Schools had, and continues to have on Indigenous children, their families and communities,” says Mayor Cam Guthrie. “As settlers, we must accept that history, and take active steps to reconcile. That means learning, breaking down stereotypes and connecting with and supporting Indigenous communities.”
Invitation to City staff to participate
Throughout September, City staff is encouraged to participate in different training opportunities including attending Indigenous relations awareness training provided by Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., registering for and completing the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada online course, and exploring other provided resources including videos, podcasts and articles. Staff is also invited to join a book group to read and discuss “Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good.
Invitation to the community to participate
The Museum is hosting events leading up to September 30, and City staff and the community are welcome to attend:
- Virtual Tour of the Former Mohawk Institute Residential School
- #HopeAndHealingCanada art installation, by Métis artist Tracey-Mae Chambers at Riverside Park
- No Word for Art Indigenous beadwork workshop with Naomi Smith, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation
- Conversations in Pipigwan Flute, a presentation by Rene Meshake, a residential school survivor
“The TRC says the number of Indigenous children counted buried in unmarked graves will reach 3,200 in Canada,” notes Scott Stewart, the City’s chief administrative officer. ”The Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford has taught me so much about Residential Schools and the legacy they’ve left behind. Taking part in these learning opportunities allows me to support City staff as we build a more inclusive organization and deliver better public service.”
What might meaningful action look like?
An early step towards reconciliation is learning about the truth of the Residential School system and the damage to Indigenous Peoples, their families and social structures. What might meaningful action look like for individuals?
- Read a book by an Indigenous author
- Take a course to learn more about the history of Indigenous Peoples
- Watch an Indigenous documentary or movie
- Donate to an Indigenous organization
- Volunteer with an Indigenous organization
- Shop at an Indigenous business
- Attend a cultural event
- Support Indigenous artists and musicians
Orange Shirt Day
September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day which honours the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, recognizes their resilience and affirms a commitment that every child matters. City employees are working on September 30 and some will be wearing orange shirts or orange stickers in honour of the Indigenous children who died as a result of colonization and Residential Schools policy. The lights at City Hall and the Civic Museum will be lit orange in commemoration.
“We encourage members of our community to take some time on September 30 to honour the buried children and Survivors of Residential Schools, their families and communities by living in the truth of this tragedy, increasing your awareness, and participating in programs and events that are available throughout the city,” shares Sara Sayyed, the City’s senior advisor on Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives.
Keep the conversation going
Beyond National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the City is working to better understand its municipal responsibilities for reconciliation, including responding to the TRC’s calls to action, updating the City’s Territorial Acknowledgement, ensuring the City proactively and meaningfully engages with Indigenous governments and rights-bearing communities, creating ongoing learning opportunities for City staff and Council, and helping to tell newcomers the history of this land.
Scott McNair, Strategic Communications Advisor
Strategic Communications and Community Engagement
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3893