West Lake commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with events and presentations

‘This is going to be a good learning day for everybody’

In honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, West Lake Terrace is dedicating today to both celebrating the contributions First Nations communities make to Canada as well as raising awareness of the issues Indigenous Peoples face in this country.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard and administrator Darlene Copegog-Hamilton came up with the idea to raise awareness of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s residents and staff members.

For lunch, residents will be served a mix of contemporary and traditional First Nations food including three sisters soup, which contains squash, corn and beans, as well as fried tacos and sweetened bannock with berries for dessert.

The home’s display case is featuring photos highlighting aspects of First Nations culture such as hoop dancing and powwows. Also in the display case are a traditional medicine pouch and a pair of moccasins owned by RAI co-ordinator Amy Harper from when she was a baby as well as a pair that belonged to her daughter.

Given that there are First Nations residents and staff members at West Lake Terrace, the day also celebrates diversity at the home, Janie says.

Before changing the name to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30 was called Orange Shirt Day.

The colour orange has significance. In 1973, Phyllis Webstad, a then-six-year-old First Nations student from B.C., had an orange shirt taken from her by teachers at the residential school she attended.

Orange Shirt Day was first acknowledged on Sept. 30, 2013, to raise awareness of the injustices First Nations, Inuit and Métis people faced in residential schools.

Orange has been designated as the colour of remembrance of the children who didn’t return home from residential schools.

Canada’s former residential school system has been a major issue this year after more than 1,300 graves were found near the sites of former residential schools in Western Canada this summer.

While this discovery sent shockwaves across the country, it also highlighted in bold print the mistreatment the people of Canada’s First Nations faced during the era of the residential school system.

“It’s really important to include the residents and to raise awareness about some of the issues (affecting the First Nations people) in our community and in our country,” Janie tells The OMNIway.

“With the recent discovery of the graves in the residential school system, we thought it was important to bring this to light and to give the residents some opportunity to talk about it and to learn from it.”

To show solidarity with the people of Canada’s First Nations, West Lake Terrace residents and staff members are being encouraged to wear orange shirts today.

The West Lake Terrace team has also hoisted an Every Child Matters flag outside the home.

In the afternoon, Darlene is going to deliver a presentation to residents focused on the First Nations of Canada. Janie is going to show residents YouTube videos highlighting First Nations culture and explain some of the many traditions celebrated by Indigenous Peoples.

“This is going to be a good learning day for everybody,” Janie says.

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