City of Toronto observes first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today, Mayor John Tory proclaimed September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the city of Toronto, a day to recognize the ongoing trauma caused by residential and day schools, and to remember those who were lost, their families and survivors. It is also an opportunity to commit to the process of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Toronto and across Canada.

The City also recognizes September 30 as Orange Shirt Day, which began as an Indigenous grassroots effort in 2013 to reflect on the history and harmful legacy of residential and day schools in Canada, as well as affirm that every child matters.

The City's commemorations are guided by consultations with Indigenous leaders, community members and Indigenous City staff who encouraged a strong focus on public education. As such, today the City’s social media channels will be dedicated to sharing information, supports and resources to educate and encourage the advancement of truth, reconciliation and justice.

In addition, flags at City Hall, civic centres and other City facilities are flying at half-mast for the day and the Toronto sign will be lit orange this evening to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The City also encourages donations to the Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Restoration of Identity Project, led by Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, which will see the construction of the Spirit Garden in Nathan Phillips Square. This peaceful and contemplative space will honour residential school survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities. The IRSS Restoration of Identity Project responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 82 and aligns with the City’s commitments to Indigenous Peoples. Its expected completion date is late 2023. Donations to Toronto Council Fire's capital campaign for the Spirit Garden can be made at http://www.toronto.ca/donate.

Additional resources, supports and information about National Day for Reconciliation are available on the City's website: http://www.toronto.ca/TruthReconciliationDay  

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was proposed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which under Action 80 called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to establish a statutory holiday to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

The City is committed to truth, reconciliation and justice. Its first Reconciliation Action Plan is currently in development, which will build upon the City's existing Commitments to Indigenous peoples. These commitments and priority calls to action are available at: https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/accessibility-human-rights/indigenous-affairs-office/commitments-to-indigenous-peoples/

The Mayor’s proclamation is available at: https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/awards-tributes/tributes/proclamations-congratulatory-scrolls-and-letters-of-greeting/proclamations/proclamations-2021/

The Mayor' video message is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x_uDRBYFSA 

Quotes:

"The trauma resulting from Canada's residential and day school system had lasting consequences for generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples that continue to this day. As we reflect on this tragic legacy today, I encourage all Torontonians to educate themselves on this history and consider how they can make truth, justice and reconciliation part of their own lives. We at the City are committed to taking concrete action to support all Indigenous residents and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action in a meaningful way."

- Mayor John Tory

"Today is not a day for celebration or congratulating ourselves for how far we've come to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Today is for healing and reflection as we remember the children who never came home, those that did and still feel the impacts, their families, and the wounds from generations of colonialism. I hope Indigenous communities will find time for healing today and that people will continue to educate themselves on the abuses inflicted on First Nations, Inuit and Métis and take meaningful action to advance truth, justice and reconciliation. Change requires all of us and is overdue. Enough is enough."

- Selina Young, Director, Indigenous Affairs Office

"We are still in the truth phase of truth and reconciliation. The work ahead must be meaningful, informed and create pathways for true reconciliation. I urge every Canadian to listen, to learn and to begin the honest journey of educating oneself – seek out the truth and lean into your discomfort to truly start the process of reconciliation. We must re-evaluate our policies, our procedures and systems that continue to cause harm. Today, and every day, the community will honour all survivors of residential schools, those we’ve tragically lost and those still greatly impacted today. We will walk in balance and beauty to ensure the truth continues to unveil itself."

- Pamela Hart, Co-Chair, Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee and Executive Director, Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto

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