“It is really difficult, but this day is necessary to move forward, for that path of healing to advance,” said Elayne Isaacs, cultural resources coordinator for the Can-Am Indigenous Friendship Center. “Canadian citizens have a responsibility to educate themselves.”
With a healing walk along the banks of the Windsor River on Thursday, First Nations people will reunite their homes, families and communities.
“As more and more children are found, and more and more stories are heard of the heinous acts of violence committed during the era of Indian residential schools … the fact remains that First Nations, Métis and Inuit they are still reeling from current and intergenerational trauma, “organizers of Thursday’s walk said in an invitation to the event.
“We ask, ‘Where do we go from here?’ … the answer is, and always had been, focus on our children. “
The day honoring the victims and survivors of First Nations residential schools was declared by the federal government in June, and is one of 94 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report published in 2015.
It means that many people will have the day off from work, but everyone should see it as an opportunity to learn about Canada’s residential school system, not just a holiday.
“It is a difficult time because now all of Canada is talking about this and people are anxious and interested to know, but we must be aware that many of our elderly are still injured, some are still traumatized or now re-traumatized.”
Today, First Nations people are reclaiming cultures, languages and ceremonies that the residential school system has pushed underground, Isaacs said. That’s why your services as a Cultural Resource Officer are important – you help connect the urban Indian community in Windsor and Essex County with what they need to heal, whether it’s their language or reaching a sweat lodge.
More funding is needed, especially money like the $ 30 million that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has pledged to survivors of residential schools.
“We need more resources and more funds to add and share with local indigenous agencies like the Can-Am Indigenous Friendship Center to support these much needed programs and access to culture, language and ceremonies,” Isaacs said.
“For me, healing happens when we recover who we are, we acquire ancestral knowledge and we have that option to share. Healing occurs when Canada recognizes and honors the true story of how we came to be. “
National Truth and Reconciliation Day also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a reconciliation project that recognizes the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a survivor who had her new orange shirt stolen on her first day at residential school. . Today, Orange Shirt Day is marked to create debate, education, and remembrance of Canada’s residential school system.
Isaacs also asked Canadians to reflect on the words of the Honorable Murray Sinclair, former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and learn about the Commission’s 94 call-to-action themes on Thursday.
“What the Canadian government tried to do was true genocide. People don’t want to admit that and to this day we are dealing with that, ”Isaacs said.
“Healing and reconciliation require the commitment of both Canadians and Turtle Island First Nations. It is a responsibility not only for indigenous peoples, but also for our non-indigenous brothers and sisters on Turtle Island to work together in a positive way, to shift towards healing and reconciliation. ”