Treaty 2 Territory – This evening as I was waiting for my friend outside the Dauphin Regional Health Centre, I noticed the Canadian Flag lowered to half mast. I was instantly reminded of the reason, and how so many organizations, businesses, schools, municipal and government buildings, parks, etc lowered their flags in late May following the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.
For the past couple of months, it appeared that no matter where I traveled to within our Territory, and Province, there was a mutual respect to remember the children who were left behind, and to honour those survivors who are with us today. As heavy as it was to hear the news of the discovery, and to be among hundreds of thousands affected by this atrocity, personally it was comforting to see the support of so many with whom we share this land with.
The flags flying at half mast were a symbol of respect for those mourning, and affected by the trials and tribulations of the residential school system, however as an Anishinaabe person, I was appreciative to see so many additional gestures displayed. I drove down Roblin Boulevard in Headingly in early June, and noticed the white picket fence (of a modern, million dollar home) decorated in orange ribbons, and displaying several orange shirts. I saw similar orange displays in yards as I drove up Highway 50. In our neighbouring municipality and town of Ste. Rose, banners have been hung on the town’s lampposts reading “Every Child Matters”.
Photo: Ebb & Flow First Nation Ikwe, Phyllis Racette
A number of Nations in our Territory visit Ste. Rose du Lac daily, and we are large contributors to their economy. Yesterday, while leaving the Petro Canada Gas Station in the small town, I noticed an orange painted rock at their door acknowledging Every Child Matters. Gestures like this, regardless of size, have not gone unnoticed. We are a kind people, humble, and grateful for all those who have taken that step to pay tribute to those little ones who never made it home.
On September 30th, 2021 for the first time in Canadian History, a statutory holiday will be observed to recognize the horrific, colonial legacy of residential schools, honour Indigenous survivors, and is vital to the ongoing reconciliation process. The federal government passed Bill C-5 in June, to allow for the creation of this statutory holiday.
The holiday is line with one of the 94 calls to action of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states: “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.”
Again, it is humbling to come across businesses acknowledging this day, and the reason for it. To no surprise, I walked into the Ste. Rose Super Thrifty Drug Mart recently and noticed a sign displayed saying their store will be closed to Honour The National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. To some, these actions may seem miniscule, but to someone like me, they’re huge. They remind us, as Anishinaabe people, who our allies are, who respects us as a people, who values our contributions to society, and most of all who mourns with us as we remember all those innocent lives who were left behind and never brought home to their families, and Nations.
To those of you who wear Orange t-shirts in remembrance, to those who have decals displayed on your vehicles, to those businesses showing your support, and to those towns still flying flags at half mast, we see it. We feel it. We thank you. Reconciliation won’t happen over night, but it is happening. Let’s continue to work together to ensure all of our children, and future generations can live in harmony on Mother Earth, on Turtle Island, and right here in our beautiful Treaty 2 Territory. Miigwech.
Every Child Matters. They always have, they always will.
Submitted By: Marlene Davis, Communications Keeper
Last modified: September 16, 2021