Thursday will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
While Alberta has chosen not to recognize the day as a holiday, all Canadians are asked to spend time reflecting on the mistreatment of our country’s First Nations people as well as the atrocities and lasting impact of residential schools.
One way to show your support is to wear an orange shirt – Sept. 30 has been known as Orange Shirt Day in Canada since 2013 when the grassroots initiative was started by Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor in B.C.
In Edmonton, there are a number of events that are taking place around the city to encourage residents to pay respect and reflect.
Events at city facilities
The city has marked the day as a statutory holiday. Libraries will be closed.
A sacred fire will be lit at City Hall Plaza, flags will be at half mast, and the High Level Bridge will also be lit orange in the evening.
A plant giveaway will also be held at William Hawrelak Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to honour residential school victims and survivors.
City vehicles will also have an orange ribbon displayed to recognize the day.
Museums and galleries
The Royal Alberta Museum will be hosting virtual talks to commemorate the day: at 10:30 a.m., a virtual storytelling will be held, and at 2 p.m. a virtual exhibit talk will take place.
The Art Gallery of Alberta is encouraging those who attend the museum to wear an orange shirt, with free admission being offered to those who participate in the initiative.
Fort Edmonton Park is also hosting the Indigenous Peoples Experience exhibit, although it is only open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 p.m.
From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., the MacEwan University will be hosting an event outdoors at Robbins Health Learning Centre and Allard Hall. It will include a sacred fire and wellness circle with elder support, as well as a live painting of a community mural.
At the University of Alberta, students marked the day with a series of events over the week, and at 3 p.m. Thursday the Faculty of Engineering will host a virtual prayer circle.
Ikea will be selling prints from Indigenous artist Lance Cardinal, with 100 per cent of proceeds being donated to Orange Shirt Day. Cardinal will be at the store from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to talk about the print with customers. Those who attend can write messages of hope on orange paper T-shirts that will be hung at the store’s Indigenous showroom.
Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society
Bent Arrow is hosting a live stream event at 1 p.m. Thursday on its Facebook page that will feature survivor stories, a smudge and prayer, and crafts.
Strathcona Wilderness Centre
The Stathcona Wilderness Centre is hosting a free event for families from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., meant to build relationships with Indigenous Peoples. It will include a blessing, scavenger hunt, performances, and Indigenous food.
Every Child Matters Run/Walk
Ahead of a run at that starts at 4:15 p.m., which is now closed for registration, a ceremony with elders is set to take place at 3 p.m. at the Kinsmen Baseball Field.
Edmonton International Film Festival screening
The Edmonton International Film Festival is hosting a special screening at the Edmonton City Centre Landmark Cinemas at 6:30 p.m. of Returning Home, a documentary that focuses on Canada’s Indian residential school legacy.