Edmontonians have plenty of options available to them for participating in this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day is an annual commemoration honouring the children who died while attending residential schools and the survivors, families and communities still affected by the legacy of the residential school system.
The day was made a federal statutory holiday in 2021, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended in its 94 calls to action.
The day offers an opportunity for non-Indigenous people to learn and reflect, but Cheryl Whiskeyjack — executive director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society — said she hopes people are putting in work year-round.
She said Bent Arrow has made a commitment to keeping its doors open and have programming regardless of what day September 30 falls on.
“We don’t want it to become just another day off or another long weekend or anything like that,” Whiskeyjack said.
“The risk we run if we just take that day off is some people will use it for that reflection, but if there’s nothing to reflect on, it then just becomes another long weekend for folks.”
She said she heard a lot this past year about people wanting to participate in reconciliation but not knowing where to start. Bent Arrow is holding an event with a virtual option, including a panel discussion, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday centred on the theme of allyship.
“The will is there, with some anxiety because they’re not sure how to help,” she said.
“And so this panel discussion is going to explore the many different ways that people can [help] and also the many different experiences that people have had by taking that chance and getting involved.”
People can head to Kinsmen Park for the Orange Shirt Day Run/Walk. The race is sold out, but people are welcome to check out a round dance, vendors and activities.
Anita Cardinal, the race director and organizer of the event, said that she is motivated by her community to keep putting the event on.
She said running is ceremony for her and that money raised from registration fees goes to various Indigenous organizations around the city.
“The best way to move in this journey of reconciliation and truth is by doing that together. And that’s by understanding one another and coming together in a good way, in a healing way,” she said.
Other events happening in Edmonton
Here are some other events in the city Edmontonians can attend to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
- The Royal Alberta Museum is hosting a children’s story time and film screenings by an Indigenous filmmaker. Admission is always free for Indigenous peoples.
- The Belcourt Brosseau Métis awards take place Saturday. The awards support Métis people in Alberta with money toward education and skill development.
- Boyle Street Plaza is hosting an event called Empowering Our Spirits. All are welcome to join the activities, which include children’s programming from noon to 3 p.m. and then entertainment and a TRC panel discussion from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- The Mother Earth pop-up market will take place 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- CO*LAB is hosting a gathering focused on the next generation of Indigenous people and will “provide a safe space for all Indigenous peoples to be heard, to grow and to heal,” per their ticketing website description. George Burnstick and the Abraham Lake Singers will be playing. Soup and bannock will also be served.
- West Edmonton Mall is hosting learning events and performances from noon to 6 p.m.
- General admission is free all day at the Alberta Art Gallery.
- Standing Together Orange Shirt Day Community Walk is beginning at Mary Burlie Park at 12:30 p.m. Afterwards, there is a gathering at Giovanni Caboto Park.
- The Telus World of Science is holding different events throughout the day, including a teepee raising and an Indigenous Vendors Market.
- The Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park will be open on Saturday as well.
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