National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a day of remembrance and reflection in Canada. Observed annually on September 30, it honours the experiences of Indigenous peoples who were impacted by the residential school system. This system was established by the Canadian government and operated from the late 1800s to the 1990s, with the goal of assimilating Indigenous children into Canadian society. The schools were notorious for their harsh living conditions, physical and sexual abuses, and the loss of language, culture, and life.
The City of Saint John is working closely with First Nations Storytellers, Double Curve Media, and Indigenous community leaders to host an Indigenous-led Healing Walk at 1:00 p.m. on September 30, 2023 at the Great Canadian Trail in Rockwood Park. Elder Lisa Dutcher and Drum Group Wolastoqewi Apijik will lead the walk.
National Truth and Reconciliation Day serves as an opportunity for Canadians to acknowledge the devastating impact of residential schools and to commit to reconciliation efforts. It is also a day to celebrate the resilience and strength of Indigenous peoples and their cultures.
On September 30, communities across Canada hold events and ceremonies to honour survivors and to educate others about the legacy of residential schools. The day is a reminder that we all have a role to play in building a more just and equitable society, one that recognizes and respects the rights and cultures of Indigenous peoples.
On July 1, 2021 Indigenous community members living in Saint John organized the first Healing Walk in Rockwood Park, with speakers offering sobering details of the impact of residential schools at each provincial marker along The Great Canadian Trail. An estimated 1,500 residents joined them in the march in Orange Shirts to honor the children who were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
The original walk was organized by the now defunct Indigenous organizations Eastern Circle and Heart of Saint John, whose leaders said that the event was meant to be a step towards healing and reconciliation. They also called for the government to act by fully implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
The Healing Walk is a reminder that the legacy of residential schools continues to impact Indigenous communities across Canada. It also highlights the importance of listening to and supporting Indigenous voices in the ongoing process of healing and reconciliation.
This event is free of charge and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to wear orange and bring a hand drum if they have one.
Source City of Saint John