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‘This is the start of something’: King museum recognizes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Oct. 4, 2021

All across the country Sept. 30, people gathered to recognize the first Nation Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day.

About 25 people gathered in-person at the King Heritage and Cultural Centre to hear an abbreviated version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action read aloud.

“We felt that it was our responsibility as, not only as Canadians, but as a heritage institution to do something to mark this day,” said Erika Baird, a supervisor at the King Heritage and Cultural Centre.

Baird said they decided to read the calls to action on the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation after a discussion with volunteers and partners.

“We came up with the theme to say, ‘We’re not Indigenous, we’re not going to pretend to be, but we can do something to mark this day’ and reflect it in King Township that will hopefully lead to actual action items to move forward and make a difference,” she said.

Baird said it’s not enough to just talk about Indigenous lives one day a year; it needs to be all the time.

“This is the start of something,” she said.

Baird and fellow members of the King Public Library’s Truth and Reconciliation Book Club, which gathered together over online video conference, who organized and read out loud the calls to action Sept. 30.

Organizers invited members of the Chippewas of Georgina Island and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, but understood that it’s a difficult day for many Indigenous people.

“Unfortunately, neither were able to make it but, of course, they have their own healing to do today,” Baird said.

King resident Geraldine Stricker, who is originally from England, came to the event because she felt that she hadn’t learned enough about the Indian Residential School system.

“English people were definitely involved with decisions that were made. I felt that there was a responsibility there and I wanted to get more facts and more information and generally inform myself about what had happened and what we could do in the future to improve the situation,” she said.

Stricker said she wants to learn what she and other Canadians can do moving forward to further truth and reconciliation with Indigenous people.

MPP for King-Vaughan, Stephen Lecce, who was also in attendance at the cultural centre, said communities across the province have an opportunity to be part of a journey of reconciliation.

“I think it starts in our school system as we strengthen the curriculum. I also think it starts at a grassroots level, which is what we’re doing here at the King museum,” he said.

Mayor Steve Pellegrini read the land acknowledgement at the beginning of the ceremony. He said it’s important that we learn from our mistakes of the past and move forward through reconciliation.