Ceremony and reflection on agenda for Truth and Reconciliation Day at UHN

Michener Gitigan
Last year’s event at the Michener Gitigan, featured singer and drummer Sara Luey, who is also known as Spotted Eagle Woman and Singing Wolf, (L), and members of TeamUHN receiving personal “commitment cards,” which offered opportunities to make personal commitments to reconciliation over the coming year. (Photos: UHN)

Amid the glow of a sacred fire and the sounds of drumming and song, members of TeamUHN will mark Orange Shirt Day and the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, September 29.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Michener Gitigan (the Anishinaabemowin word for garden) at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN, near the corner of Elm St. and McCaul St. Those attending are asked to wear orange shirts that day, and to any community events they may attend, as a sign of support and solidarity.

Every September 30, UHN commemorates Orange Shirt Day, which is dedicated to creating opportunities for meaningful discussion about all aspects of residential schools and their lasting effects. In 2021, the Canadian government established the date as the annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released a final report detailing 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. The Indigenous Health Program (IHP) has led UHN’s commitment to enacting and being accountable to those related to health care, specifically Calls to Action Nos. 18 through 24, and others impacting health and well-being.

In 2021, marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, UHN committed to Call to Action No. 22. It states: “We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal Healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.”

At last year’s event, UHN committed to Call to Action No. 23. It states: “We call upon all levels of government to: i. Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health care field. ii. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health care providers in Aboriginal communities. iii. Provide cultural competency training for all health care professionals.”

In the coming year, UHN is committing to continue the work on Call to Action Nos. 22 and 23.

Survivor flag
The Survivors’ Flag was displayed prominently at last year’s event. Developed through consultation and collaboration with Inuit, Mi’kmaq, Atikamekw, Cree, Ojibway, Dakota, Mohawk, Dene, Nuu-chah-nulth, Secwepemc and Métis survivors, it affirms commitment to the remembrance of the lives lost through, and impacted by, the residential school system in Canada. (Photo: UHN)

Also at last year’s event, the Survivor’s Flag was on display. It depicts nine elements carefully selected by residential school survivors from across Canada. Members of TeamUHN took turns reading the stories of the survivors to the assembled audience. Read more about the Survivor’s Flag.

Also at the 2022 event, members of TeamUHN were given individual “commitment cards,” which are intended to offer opportunities to make personal commitments to reconciliation over the coming year.

The half-page card says, “We all have a role and responsibility in Reconciliation” and then asks, “How will you honour Reconciliation this year?” before listing off a number of examples of commitments. The hope was that members of TeamUHN would take the cards, check off their personal commitments and keep them in a prominent place at work or home to reflect on them.

At this year’s event, some members of TeamUHN will share their own reflections about the commitments they made.

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