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Truth and Reconciliation events allow community to raise awareness, learn

Falstaff Family Centre programs an attempt to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools
2021-9-30 Orange shirt walk DB
File photo

The Falstaff Family Centre is hosting six days of by-donation activities from Sept. 25-30 in support of Truth and Reconciliation Week and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Events will foster learning, awareness, inclusivity and attempt to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools, one of the 94 calls to action identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, according to a news release. The week will officially launch at 1 p.m. on Sept. 25 with a short opening address by Patsy Anne Day, a member of the Turtle Clan and an Oneida First Nation elder.

Throughout the week, the FFC will be hosting the Legacy of Hope Foundation’s Exhibition, entitled Peter Henderson Bryce: A Man of Conscience, open daily Sept. 25-30 from 1-9 p.m. Suitable for all ages, admission is by cash donation with proceeds going to the Indigenous-led foundation. Henderson Bryce was a medical officer of health for Ontario and the federal government in the early 1900s and is considered a ‘whistle blower’ for bringing attention to the large numbers of Indigenous children dying in residential schools.

There will be a pop-up retail shop on site all week, featuring T-shirts by Winona Sands of Howling Moon Aboriginal Arts and a member of Walpole Island First Nation, as well as artwork by knowledge keeper Christin Dennis Gzhiiquot, Fast Moving Cloud, a member of Aamjiwnaag First Nation.

From Monday through Friday, the FFC will also be hosting five virtual lunch and learn sessions. Presented by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), the sessions will be streamed from Winnipeg from 1:30 to 2:50 p.m. Each session, geared to adults, discusses a different topic, from debunking stereotypes to ongoing systemic discrimination and taking action towards reconciliation. Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch. Admission is by cash donation, with proceeds going back to the NCTR.

On the weekday evenings, from 7 p.m., five National Film Board of Canada documentaries will be shown. Each film, aimed to an adult audience, examines a different aspect of Indigenous experience, from the missing and murdered Indigenous women to first-hand stories of life in the residential school system and the reunification of four siblings separated during the Sixties Scoop. After the Wednesday film about the Sixties Scoop, from 8:30 to 9 p.m. in the Community Room, Dennis, who is also a Sixties Scoop Survivor, will be telling some of his own personal story. Admission to all films is by cash donation, with proceeds going to the Legacy of Hope Foundation. Details on the films and their show times are available on the FFC website.

The week will culminate with a series of family-friendly events on Saturday Sept. 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Activities from 1:45-4 p.m. include performances by grass dancer Scott Norton, a member of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and drummer and singer Scott Stevens, a member of Saugeen First Nation.

The afternoon will conclude with teachings from Dennis, including explaining the importance of Ojibwe Spirit Horses and a visit with several horses from Aspens Sanctuary. Cash donations will be welcomed and go towards caring for the horses at the sanctuary. A sacred fire will be kept going throughout the afternoon next to the Medicine Wheel garden, and the teepee erected earlier this summer will be open to the public.

The Stratford Perth Community Foundation will be supporting the events by helping to cover costs associated with bringing the drummer and the Legacy of Hope exhibition to the FFC.

Find a complete list of community initiatives on the Stratford Public Library site.