The Dze L K’ ant Friendship Centre has chosen to honour the Sept. 30, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation “as a full week of events,” explained Mel Bazil, the Friendship Centre’s drug and alcohol counselor.
“As the day is now a stat holiday and federal facilities will be closed, as will the Friendship Centre, we are planning several community-based events Sept. 27 through Oct. 2,” he said.
In Smithers, on Sept. 30, there will be a candle-lighting ceremony at the corner of Main Street and Hwy 16 (outside the museum) with the goal of sharing a space of healing from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The public is encouraged to bring their own candles.
The new statutory holiday coincides with the annual Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, which is intended to create meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind.
Events include the launch of the Friendship Centre’s war canoe on Lake Kathlyn and Tyhee Lake, Coast Mountain College staff wearing orange shirts for the school’s grand opening, and Sonia Palmer making a quilt with orange squares donated by the public.
There will also be individual events planned for Sept. 30 in each surrounding community.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a federal statutory holiday declared in June, intended to give the public a chance to recognize and commemorate the intergenerational harm that residential schools have caused to Indigenous families and communities and to honour those who have been affected by this injustice.
The designated paid holiday for federal employees addresses one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states:
“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”