'We found it was more important than ever': Windsor-Essex marks National Indigenous Peoples Day
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The 25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day was marked virtually across Windsor-Essex Monday.
The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County hosted ‘Heritage@Home’ with representatives from local lndigenous communities and organizations sharing music and dance performances along with traditional presentations.
“When the discovery was made, we did have this moment of pause, and do we continue?” said Multicultural Council manager of communications Pam Mady.
Mady said the recent news of children found buried at former residential schools in Canada emphasized the need to have events recognizing local Indigenous culture.
“We found it was more important than ever,” she said.
Included were members of the Carrousel youth representatives and MCC partners from Caldwell First Nation.
“It’s really starting to show that we are part of a multicultural community and that we are all tied in this and that every life matters,” Darryl Van Oirschot, of the Caldwell First Nation, said when discussing the response the Windsor-Essex community has given since the children’s remains were discovered.
“Once the truth comes out and we all know what happened and we can actually send those lost children to their families in a culturally appropriate way and put them to rest,” Van Oirschot explained. “Then I think we can truly work towards reconciliation, which is what I think you are already doing here in this conversation.”
Anellah Orosz, 16, with the Caldwell First Nation youth advisory committee told the online crowd that several calls to action have been made.
“As a result of this discovery the youth advisory committee for Caldwell First Nation has put forward a motion to the Association of Iroquois and allied Indians to have ground penetrating radar used at all places where residential schools are or used to be,” Orosz said.
Organizers say the meaningful discussions help play a role to build a future of respect and appreciation for Indigenous culture.
In a Facebook post, Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens said the National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to learn about the heritage, lives and stories of Indigenous peoples, while also taking time to honour and remember, noting The City of Windsor sits on the traditional territory of the Anishnaabe people of the Three Fires Confederacy: Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa.
“Today, and every day, we must continue to be grateful and to nurture and respect our relationship with Indigenous peoples in the places we continue to call ‘home,’” Dilkens said.
Meanwhile, a petition by Windsor’s Edy Haddad calling on the Vatican to formally apologize and have Indigenous history included in all Canadian school curriculums has garnered over 11,000 signatures.
“We need action and there needs to be something done,” he said.
Haddad, tells CTV News that the petition was started over two weeks ago and that he’d like to see the Pope come to Canada to issue an official apology.
Haddad notes he plans to deliver the petition to the Diocese of London or the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa when upwards of 20,000 signatures are gathered.
“We’re not the same church that we were a thousand years ago or a couple hundred years ago,” he said. “It’s evolving every single day and having these open and very real conversations is how we ensure that the church grows into the future.”