Vaughan commemorates the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day
Oct. 4, 2021
The City remains committed to ongoing discussions and work towards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
Today marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day. It is a day of sombre reflection, when settlers on this land are called upon to do the hard, reflective work of decolonizing thoughts and actions, and a reminder of the need for ongoing discussion and work towards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 Calls to Action. During the City of Vaughan’s Sept. 27 Council meeting, Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua brought forward two Member’s Resolutions that were unanimously endorsed by Members of Council. The first acknowledges Thursday, Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and reaffirms Council’s existing recognition of Orange Shirt Day. The second recognizes Monday, Oct. 4 as Sisters in Spirit Day.
To commemorate Orange Shirt Day, the Every Child Matters flag has been raised at half-mast outside Vaughan City Hall. A Memorial Garden consisting of planters with orange and white flowers has been placed around the flagpole. In addition, City Hall will be illuminated orange this evening to acknowledge the children who survived residential schools and remember those who didn’t.
On this day, people are encouraged to wear orange shirts to recognize the residential school experience and witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families. It is a call to action to foster a city, province and nation where every child matters. The day also honours the survivors of residential schools, their families, and First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities.
To mark this day, citizens are also encouraged to explore Vaughan Public Libraries’ website, which features an extensive list of library resources, including recommended reading lists for adults, teens and children, links to the library’s digital resources, blog posts and a compilation of external links highlighting the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation resources.
Residential schools systematically undermined First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures across Canada and disrupted families for generations, severing the ties through which Indigenous culture is taught and sustained, and contributing to a general loss of language and culture. Because children were removed from their families, many grew up without experiencing a nurturing family life and without the knowledge and skills to raise their own families. The devastating effects of the residential schools are far-reaching and continue to have a significant impact on Indigenous communities. The City joins communities from coast to coast to acknowledge the suffering endured by thousands of First Nations, Métis and Inuit children sent to residential schools, as well as their families and communities. The annual commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital part of the reconciliation process.
“On Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, let us pause and reflect on this moment of national mourning and remember the First Nation, Métis and Inuit victims and survivors of residential schools in Canada. As we observe this solemn day, we must also answer the call to action to continue working towards truth and reconciliation. The atrocities of the residential school system mark a dark chapter of Canada’s history, which continues to be felt by individuals and communities across the country. The City of Vaughan is committed to ongoing discussions, learning and work towards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action -- and acknowledgment is the first of many steps. Every year on Sept. 30, people are encouraged to wear orange shirts to recognize the residential school experience and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families. I also encourage citizens to dedicate time to study the history of the residential school system and learn more about how they can support First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities. I believe that we cannot move forward without reconciliation. By working together towards the shared goal of creating a truly inclusive and equitable society, we can foster a city, province and nation where every child matters.”
Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua
“Commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day is reflective of the City’s dedication towards reconciliation and prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The City recognizes that the impact of systemic, structural and institutional barriers must be addressed for Indigenous and equity-deserving groups to reach their full potential and actively participate in civic life. The City is developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy and multi-year action plan, led by Vaughan’s first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Zincia Francis. Since joining in January 2021, Ms. Francis has been working with passionate and dedicated peers and allies to strengthen and build upon the City’s existing diversity and inclusion foundation. This strategy and action plan will aim to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequities in access to services, community participation and civic engagement. The City will continue strengthening and building on its diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives and its commitment that all Vaughan employees and community members are heard, appreciated and valued.”
Nick Spensieri, City Manager