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‘Special day for our people.’ Calgarians mark 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary holds inaugural ceremony marking Day of Truth and Reconciliation' City of Calgary holds inaugural ceremony marking Day of Truth and Reconciliation
A ceremony was held at Fort Calgary Thursday, acknowledging the painful past endured by Canada’s First Nations people. As Jayme Doll reports, while there is a lot of healing to be done, many feel knowing that their truth is finally being listened to they can begin the journey toward reconciliation – Sep 30, 2021

A large orange banner with the names of more than 2,800 children who died at residential schools in Canada — as well as blanks to symbolized those not identified — was hung at Fort Calgary on Thursday.

Hundreds gathered at the historic confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

A banner containing the names of thousands of children who died in Canadian residential schools. Global News

The banner, and the Calgary fire crews who held it, were blessed by Siksika Elder Clarence Wolfleg, in a smudging ceremony ahead of the city’s event.

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Read more: Canada set to mark 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Here’s what’s happening

Click to play video: 'Calgarians mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation' Calgarians mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Calgarians mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Sep 30, 2021

Phil Fontaine, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations and member of the Order of Canada, called Thursday a “special day for our people.”

“It’s also a moment for the country, so that Canada can reflect with us on our collective history. The history that hasn’t been kind to us,” he said.

Fontaine said all those at the Calgary gathering were good people who know about the suffering Indigenous people have had to endure.

Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg says a prayer at Calgary’s first ceremony marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Global News

He said he could spend “endless hours” talking about the many layers of pain and shame Indigenous people are shrouded in, and issues like the roughly 30,000 children in care today, the poor housing conditions and homelessness First Nations people experience, and most recently, about discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools.

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“These are all major challenges that are before us. These challenges are not going to disappear on their own because someone wills it,” he said.

“It’s going to require a very deep and concerted effort on the part of all peoples to address these issues.”

Fontaine said he was “extremely hopeful,” however, on the country’s first day dedicated to recognizing and honouring those struggles.

Click to play video: 'Canada celebrates 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation' Canada celebrates 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Canada celebrates 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Sep 30, 2021

“I’m hopeful because we are better educated. We are able to stand on our two feet. We are more involved, more engaged in the political process. We’re engaged in businesses,” he said.

“And we’re very much in the minds of Canadians, because they can’t avoid turning their eyes away from and listening to the many stories that are emerging daily about our people.

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“I’m hopeful today because we are strong and we are resilient. The most resilient people on this land are our people.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks at the city’s first ceremony marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Speaking at the ceremony, outgoing Mayor Naheed Nenshi encouraged Calgarians to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, to identify ways they can “make those actions real in your own lives.”

“From supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, to ensuring that we are always supporting organizations that are doing the good work of healing that trauma,” he said.

“Listen to the stories. Listen to the elders, listen to the songs, listen to the knowledge keepers, listen to the stories.

“Teach your children. Understand that today is not just a day to wear an orange shirt. Today is a day to commit ourselves to what that orange shirt means for every single one of us.”

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Calgarians gathered at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers for a ceremony marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Global News

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