Posted On: September 30, 2021
In today’s Council meeting, Warden Phillips and Hastings County Council recognized the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the impact that the residential school system had and still has on indigenous people in Canada.
Hastings County Council also approved a Land Acknowledgment which will be stated at the beginning of each County Council Session, Committee of Council meeting, Public Meeting, and other special events as deemed appropriate.
Warden Rick Phillips shared the following remarks to recognize and acknowledge September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
Warden Phillips Remarks – Hastings County Council, September 30, 2021
Today is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Before we move on to the business section of our meeting, I believe, we all need to take some time and reflect on what today represents for our Country and to all Canadians as we look for ways to move forward together as we acknowledge our painful past.
To begin, I would like to take a moment to introduce the Land Acknowledgement that will be stated before every County Council and Committee meeting going forward. Land acknowledgments are a way to recognize the traditional First Nations, Métis and Inuit territories of land in Canada and we believe that they are a necessary step toward honouring the original occupants of these lands.
“We are meeting today on the traditional territory of many nations including the Huron-Wendat, Anishnaabe, and the Haudenosaunee peoples. Hastings County Council acknowledges our shared obligation to respect, honour and sustain these lands and the natural resources contained within. We honour their cultures and celebrate their commitment to this land. We would also like to acknowledge the Mohawk and Algonquin nations whose traditional and unceded territory we are gathered upon today. Hastings County is situated on treaty land that is steeped in rich Indigenous history and home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.”
Since 2013, September 30th has been commemorated as Orange Shirt Day across Canada in honour of the Survivors of Residential Schools. This year, September 30th also marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is an opportunity for all of us to recognize and acknowledge the tragic history and ongoing painful legacy of residential schools in this Country and to ensure that the painful impacts are not forgotten. It is a time to honour the survivors, those who we lost, as well as those who were – and still are – affected by the acts of the residential school system.
One survivor commented that “Reconciliation cannot happen without the truth; it begins with the truth.” “Truth is the foundation of reconciliation, no matter how sad or bad the truth may be.” As difficult and painful as it may be for us all to acknowledge the suffering and trauma that indigenous children endured through the residential school system – we must acknowledge what has happened in order for Canadians to move forward together in healing. Today offers an opportunity to commit to the process of truth and reconciliation for First Nations, Inuit and Metis people across Canada. Together, we can take action to acknowledge the past and move forward to heal and build a better future.
Today, on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we wear orange shirts. Orange Shirt Day was declared in recognition of the harm that the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being. The orange shirts represent the story of Phyllis Webstad, whose orange shirt was taken from her on her first day at a residential school when she was just six years old. Today, we raised the “Every Child Matters” flag to represent and honour the countless children affected by residential schools.
In the spirit of learning and growing together, I would now like to share a short video, where Chief Robert Joseph shares his experience as a residential school survivor and the importance of truth and reconciliation in Canada.
This is such a powerful story from Chief Robert Joseph. It is so important to listen to these stories to truly understand the impact that residential schools have had on so many people. We as a Country can take heart in knowing that we are dedicated to learning about our shared past and as we take our first collective steps forward – I commit to you as Warden that we will continue to listen and educate ourselves around the process of reconciliation that will lead us to healing together.