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'We can’t have reconciliation until we have the truth': Windsor honouring National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Several events are taking place around Windsor-Essex to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation along with Orange Shirt Day on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The day was formally designated a federal holiday in 2021 to honour the survivors of Canada’s residential school system along with the children who never returned home.

“It's the acknowledgement and knowing that we have allies,” said Theresa Sims, the first Indigenous storyteller for the City of Windsor. “Because for years, people would say, ‘It can't be that bad. You're making it up.’ They wouldn't believe us. Now they believe us.”

The “Every Child Matters” flag was raised outside Windsor City Hall on Friday, where the building will be illuminated orange in the evenings from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2023.

Sims spoke along with other dignitaries during the ceremony and said the public turnout touched her heart, suggesting people are still grieving as more graves are discovered across the country.

“We're just finding out some of the graves are our cousins, aunties, moms, dads, you know. So they're just finding them. So we have to grieve that loss that just suddenly comes to us,” she said.

Sims continued, “And it won't be mended overnight, because we're still finding children and females that are lost in landfills and they can't be bothered searching for them. If they were mainstream, they would have sent people in right away, but not with our people. We tend to get lost. We tend to get forgotten, but our children aren't forgotten. They're still here. They're still in our hearts and I'm glad other hearts are opening to us.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens noted there will be several events and activities taking place throughout the city on Saturday, like a morning walk along the Detroit river and free admission to visit Museum Windsor’s Chimczuk Museum, encouraging residents to reflect on the importance of the day for all Canadians.

“We'll take our guidance from Indigenous communities, they certainly have the stories, they have the lived experience in this regard,” Dilkens said.

“But the Truth and Reconciliation documents certainly outlines action plans that can be taken by everyone to try and get to the ultimate goal of full Truth and Reconciliation on this matter,” Dilkens explained. “And so we are doing a small part here today by raising the flag, but you see the number of people who show up, the number of people who are supporting today in this particular day by wearing orange and I think it's just an important time to reflect for all Canadians on an important piece of Canadian history.”

Caldwell First Nation is hosting an “Every Child Matters” event at Caldwell Gas and Convenience starting around noon on Saturday, following a morning drums and fire event at Point Pelee.

Chief Mary Duckworth told CTV News, “We can’t have reconciliation until we have the truth.”

Duckworth is spearheading calls for the resignation of Provincial Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford unless he drastically changes how he is dealing with First Nations.

“We’ve come baby steps ahead but we have a long ways to go and so what does that mean? That means the Ontario government and the Crown federal government needs to see us as sovereign people able to take care of our own affairs without interference and there’s still so much interference from the government when it comes to First Nations issues,” said Duckworth.

She continued, “As a chief, I struggle with the Ontario government and their tactics and as you can see, the Greenbelt was an issue, housing is an issue, so I really struggle with all of that and their ability to come to First Nations tables and not expect us to just go away and just kind of wait.”

Duckworth added, “Though we gather like this, it really is dependant on the leaders, the government leaders to understand the truth and speak the truth and do real reconciliation with the First Nations and their territories.”

Mean time, the MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh Andrew Dowie said, “It's important to learn and understand what happened. Understand why our Indigenous peoples feel the way that they feel and understand what they went through.”

Dowie said, “It's a part of our history. So it's something we can take back. We can learn from it and work to do better.”

He added, “I think it's important that we not treat September 30 as a holiday, rather treat it as a day for our own education to learn and to understand.” Top Stories

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