Shoes left at Assumption Church on July 9, 2021 (Photo courtesy of the University of Windsor)Shoes left at Assumption Church on July 9, 2021 (Photo courtesy of the University of Windsor)

Windsor City Hall to light up orange for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In the week leading up to Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the City of Windsor has a series of events planned.

That includes time for each department to consider how city services, programs, and infrastructure can address Indigenous rights.

"Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a challenging time for so many," said Mayor Drew Dilkens. "It provides the opportunity for all of us to honour First Nations, Inuit, and Metis survivors, their families and communities."

Starting on Thursday, staff participated in an interactive training session exploring the history of the Indigenous in Canada and understanding the impact of the Indian Act and the legacy of the residential school system.

"As we look at the past, present and future, we will braid the stories together with kindness and compassion for the loss of the past and the work of the present to bring hope to our future," said Theresa Sims, the city's Indigenous storyteller.

Throughout the week, staff are encouraged to focus on the importance of reconciliation.

On Friday, September 29, the city will hoist the "Every Child Matters" flag at City Hall. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m.

City staff are encouraged to wear orange clothing that day.

Later that evening, and through to October 2, Windsor City Hall will be illuminated with orange lights.

Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation fall on the same day this year.

Orange Shirt Day honours the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor, who wore a bright orange shirt on her first day of school. The shirt was a gift from her grandmother. It was taken from the six-year-old but became a symbol of remembrance for all Indigenous children who were forced to attend the schools where Indigenous language and culture were repressed, and many suffered abuse.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a call to action for all levels of government, institutions and Canadians to consider how the Indigenous were and continue to be treated in Canada. It came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which chronicled the experiences of residential school survivors.

On Saturday, September 30, Windsor's Chimczuk Museum will offer free admission where residents can visit the Original Peoples Culture and Legacy Gallery. The Caldwell First Nation, Walpole Island Heritage Centre, the Can-Am Friendship Centre and the Turtle Island-Aboriginal Education Centre at the University of Windsor helped develop the exhibit.

Windsor Public Library branches are closed on September 30 for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, but the public can enjoy Indigenous resources the preceding week.

Other activities during the week include the Truth and Reconciliation Video Series at the Bridgeview Branch each day from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and drop-in activities at the Budimir Branch. The Riverside Branch is also offering free buttons and bookmarks.

Art Windsor-Essex will host a community gathering and walk from the gallery to the Ambassador Bridge on September 30 starting at noon.

The Healthy Headwaters Lab at the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research offers the Ojibway Nature Centre Colouring Book. The book, illustrated by Indigenous artist Mariah Alexander, is meant to introduce a new generation to Indigenous culture in Windsor.

"I encourage folks to make time to learn about our shared past and commit to the learning and conversations that will lead to a stronger, more inclusive future for us all," said Dilkens.

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