STATEMENT FROM THE MAYOR

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Commitments and Actions

September 29, 2021

On the eve of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I’d like to share a few words and provide some updates to you.   Over the last number of months, we have experienced heartbreaking and sobering events as we have learned in undeniable terms the true legacy of the Residential Schools. An uncomfortable truth is that these Residential Schools are not part of our distant past. The last Residential School in Canada closed in 1996. I graduated from High School in 1997.

The Government of Canada recently passed legislation declaring September 30th a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation based on a Call to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).  This day provides an opportunity for us all to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools. It is also a day to honour and remember the survivors, their families, and communities who continue to bear witness to these tragedies.

Lanark County: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Ceremony

To recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Lanark County will be hosting a ceremony tomorrow morning at 9:00a.m. at the County Administration Building, 99 Christie Lake Road in Perth.

As Lanark County Warden, I will be joined by Larry McDermott, Ambassador of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, as well as representatives from several organizations in the county that are working towards reconciliation.

Everyone is welcome to attend either in person or virtually. For those who prefer to attend virtually, the ceremony will be livestreamed through the Lanark County Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lanarkcounty1.

Mississippi Mills: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Community Vigil

Tomorrow evening, the Municipality of Mississippi Mills is hosting a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Community Vigil from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in front of Almonte Old Town Hall.  Mississippi Mills All My Relations will be facilitating the vigil. This is an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with Indigenous Peoples and consider how we can renew our friendships. People are welcome to step into the circle for a little while, to participate in a reading, to light a candle – to come and go as they are able. There will be a quiet sharing of a few readings beginning at 7:30. Everyone is welcome and I encourage residents to attend.

Municipal Commitments and Actions

Mississippi Mills Council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing September 30th as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (TRC Call to Action #80).  Council also unanimously supported flying the Every Child Matters Flag at municipal facilities for the month of September to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Flags at all municipal facilities have been lowered since May 31, 2021 to honour the children found in mass graves across Canada and will remain lowered until further notice.

At our meeting next week, Council will be passing two other important resolutions:

  • TRC Calls to Action #17: to waive the administrative fee for commissioning documents for residential school survivors and their families to reclaim their names changed by the residential school system
  • Inclusion of an Indigenous Bicentennial Working Group as a working subcommittee to the Mississippi Mills Bicentennial Planning Committee.

We have also directed staff to develop an education plan for Council and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations (TRC Calls to Action #47).

Community Commitments and Actions

We can all take steps to raise understanding about residential schools and their ongoing effect on Indigenous Peoples. Part of making change is committing to being uncomfortable, to learning and challenging what we think we know. We all have a responsibility to work towards healing.  Here are some ideas:

In closing, I’d like to encourage residents to read materials provided to us by Mississippi Mills All My Relations earlier this month about the origins of Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: https://www.mississippimills.ca/en/news/mississippi-mills-all-my-relations.aspx

Remember, there is a National Crisis Line available to provide support to former residential school students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services are available by calling 1-866-925-4419.

Sincerely,

Mayor Christa Lowry