London, Ont. unveils plans to honor 2nd Annual Nationwide Reality and Reconciliation Day – London

London, Ont.  unveils plans to honor 2nd Annual Nationwide Reality and Reconciliation Day – London

City officials on Tuesday released details of how London, Ontario. will be celebrating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th.

The federal public holiday, held for the first time last year, is intended to honor the survivors of Canada’s boarding school system and commemorate the children who never returned home.

“Acknowledging, learning and reflecting on the tragic legacy and enduring impact of boarding schools is critical to guiding a compassionate path toward reconciliation,” Mayor Ed Holder said in a statement.

“In a spirit of reconciliation, education and hope, on September 30th we encourage all Londoners to wear orange and honor those who survived hostels and remember those who did not.”

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One of the ways the city is honoring the day is to develop a large seven-panel mural in collaboration with the N’Amerind Friendship Center and the London Arts Council.

The two-story mural, which will feature on the outside wall of the N’Amerind Friendship Centre, will be unveiled on September 30 and will honor the legacy of boarding school survivors and lost children, the city says.

The mural, titled We Are Still Here, will be directed by Mike Cywink, an Ojibwe-based educator and visual artist, who will work with local Indigenous youth artists and residential home survivors on its creation.

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Also, the city says the flags of the five signing First Nations will be displayed on the second floor of City Hall to celebrate the anniversary of the 1796 London Township Treaty.

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Also on the second floor of City Hall will be a collection of Indigenous artworks by artists Brenda Collins, Annette Sullivan and Chandra Nolan. The works can be seen until September 30th.

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City buildings will be illuminated in orange, and an Every Child Matters flag will be raised at City Hall from September 26 to October 2, the city says.

All city administrative offices, including City Hall and Citi Plaza, will be closed for the day, officials said.

The Ontario Works offices and Provincial Offenses Administrative Office will also be closed, as will the city community center, water facilities and Storybook Gardens. There will also be no garbage or recycling pickup. EnviroDepots and the landfill remain open.

Alizabeth George-Antone, Indigenous Communities Liaison Adviser, said the city is “committed to ReconciliAction through continued support and recognition of the amazing contributions our Indigenous communities have made from the original treaties” to current social justice initiatives.

“We work together for justice. Knowledge is power.”

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Survivors’ Secretariat reveals 97 deaths linked to former Brantford boarding school

An estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children attended boarding schools in Canada between the 1860s and 1996.

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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented stories from survivors and families, and in 2015 released a report detailing the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of children and at least 4,100 deaths.

Last year, ground-penetrating radar located what is believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves on the grounds of former dormitories, sparking efforts to commemorate survivors.

In late July, Pope Francis embarked on a six-day tour of Canada, during which he apologized for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the institutions and asked for forgiveness. On his return flight from Iqaluit to Rome, Francis said the abuses suffered by indigenous peoples amounted to genocide.

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Earlier this month, Survivors’ Secretariat, the group charged with a research initiative investigating the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, revealed records of 97 deaths linked to the institute — more than double the number originally reported by the National Center on Truth and Reconciliation identified.

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Ontario has said it believes there are likely more unmarked burial sites in the province than the 12 identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

According to the city, London lies within the traditional areas of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron.

Contracts specific to this area include:

  • Treaty of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Double-Row Wampum Belt/Silver Covenant Chain
  • Beaver hunting grounds of the 1701 Haudenosaunee-NANFAN Treaty
  • McKee Treaty of 1790
  • London Township Treaty of 1796
  • Huron tract treaty of 1827 with the Anishinaabeg
  • Bowl of One Spoon Covenant Wampum of the Anishnaabek and Haudenosaunee.

– with files from Global News’ Saba Aziz, Don Mitchell and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.