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Collingwood marks National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Flag raising today at 4 p.m.
Our Lady of the Bay Catholic High School students visited the Doorways exhibit at the Collingwood Museum.

Students from Our Lady of The Bay Catholic High School took a walk this week along the train trail to see the Doorways interactive art display at the Collingwood Museum grounds and to read the 94 Calls to Action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

The Doorways display was inspired by a book called A Knock at the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools, and consists of blue doors standing on the lawn at the museum. Fabric feathers have been attached by those who visit the display with words and and names on the feathers written there in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. 

The 94 Calls to Action are posted along the regular route for the town's Story Walk, which includes display cases set up along the train trail from the Collingwood Museum to Central Park. 

The local high school students were honouring National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which takes place tomorrow, Sept. 30. Also called Orange Shirt Day, an orange t-shirt has become a symbolic representation to honour the victims of residential schools. The orange shirt is from residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad's story of going to a residential school with a new, orange shirt given to her by her grandmother, only to have the shirt taken from her on the first day, and never given back. 

In honour of the day, the town will be raising the Every Child Matters orange flag at the community flagpole at the Collingwood Public Library today (Sept. 29) at 4 p.m. Following the flag raising, Collingwood Poet Laureate Jillian Morris, who is Kanien’kehá:ka, turtle clan and band member of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, will perform a poem at the Doorways display. 

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was first established in 2021 and it followed the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2008 to 2015, which studied the impacts and legacy of Canada's residential schools by sharing the stories of survivors. There were 140 federally run residential schools in Canada operating from 1867 and up to 1996. 

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has published a memorial register listing names of children lost to residential schools. Names are still being added as there are still records being withheld. You can read the names online here.

After hearing the harrowing testimony from thousands of residential school survivors across Canada, the commission released a final report with 94 calls to action, number 80 was to establish a federal statutory day of commemoration. According to a December 2022 report from the Yellowhead Institute, 13 of those calls have been completed and implemented. CBC's Beyond 94 project also lists 13 calls to action complete, with 32 more calls-related projects underway. 

The federal government claims that of the 76 calls to action that fall under the sole or shared responsibility of the Canadian government, 80 per cent of them are completed or "are well underway." 

The Collingwood town hall clock tower will be lit up orange until Oct. 2 to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

The Collingwood Public Library will be closed Sept. 30 and town hall will be closed Oct. 2. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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