National Truth and Reconciliation Day, while a statutory holiday, is decidedly a solemn day.
Canadians are asked to reflect on the country’s troubled relationship with its Indigenous peoples.
In Kingston, there were a few different hubs marking the day.
This year the day took on a quieter, more subdued tone than previous years which featured large, public gatherings.
“Some of our stuff is just kind of geared for us to come together and be together as a community because it can be a very tough day for some people,” said Lynda Gerow, operations manager at the Kingston Native Centre and Language Nest.
Gerow says the national attention brought on by the day has its drawbacks. She says it often puts pressure on Indigenous communities to make appearances when they want to use the day to quietly reflect and heal, together.
“I would like to see that less reliance on the Indigenous community having to educate the month leading up to that. Let’s do education all year round,” said Gerow.
At the Kingston Community Health Centre, there was a sacred fire as well as many other cultural activities for Kingston’s Indigenous peoples to participate in.
Downtown, there was also a sacred fire hosted in Confederation Park.
Rose DeShaw, who is not Indigenous, says she felt it important to take part in the day in honour of her adopted sister, who is Indigenous.
“My mother, who was a bigot, would have my sister walk behind us because she didn’t feel that she was quite right, she was Inuit,” said DeShaw, who attended the sacred fire.
For DeShaw, she said that doing your part can be as simple as showing up.
“I want to help any way I can. Even just showing up, even if you shut up, but just show up. That’s all part of it I think.”
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