Members of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Executive Council will honour Indian Residential School Survivors, their families, and all the children who didn’t return home during Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events in Thunder Bay and Ottawa today.
“Many people will come together today to acknowledge the truth behind the Indian Residential School experience. We will grieve for the youth who never made it home and honour the healing journeys of Survivors and their families as more unmarked gravesites are discovered across the country,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “We will do everything possible to support our communities and ensure that any approach developed for the identification and recovery of our children will be led by Survivors and their families. We are committed to supporting Survivors, their families, and all NAN First Nations throughout the difficult work to come.”
The discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School ignited calls for action and full-scale investigations and searches of former Residential School sites. Within the NAN territory, there were nine Residential Schools attended by First Nations children.
Deputy Grand Chief Achneepineskum will join with Survivors, their families, and members of the public for NAN’s Orange Shirt Day commemoration on the grounds of Pope John Paul II Senior Elementary School in Thunder Bay at 11 a.m. NAN’s interactive community-building display will be on display while a Sacred Fire burns. This 16-panel display highlights Treaty relationships and dispels common myths and misconceptions about Indigenous Peoples.
In Ottawa, Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater and Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse will attend National Day of Remembrance events on Parliament Hill and a Spirt Walk to Confederation Park. They will join with Residential School Survivors from across NAN territory, including members of the St. Anne’s Residential School Survivor’s Peetabeck Keway Keykaywin Association, who are organizing a teepee and pipe ceremony.
Deputy Grand Chiefs Linklater and Narcisse will also visit the Beechwood National Memorial Center’s Sacred Space for the first public display of 57,000 tiles made by youth from across Canada to honour those who attended residential schools as part of the Project of Heart education program.