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28 September 2021
CMHA Niagara joins Canadians across the country in observing the country’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021.
The day was established by the federal government to honour survivors of residential schools, 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.
To acknowledge the day, CMHA Niagara will be hosting a virtual Truth and Reconciliation Town Hall for our staff and CFAC Committee, who are encouraged to wear their “Every Child Matters” orange shirts. The session will include land recognition, smudge ceremony, history of Orange Shirt Day and Truth & Reconciliation, and additional information and resources for further staff learning and involvement.
The physical, psychological and spiritual violence stemming from residential schools has caused pain that has been passed from generation to generation. Residential schooling denied many Indigenous children and their families the experiences of positive parenting, worthy community leaders, and a positive sense of identity and self-worth, which have structured and contributed to the systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous communities today.
The recent discoveries reflects the long history of racism, violence and cultural genocide towards Indigenous peoples in Canada which did not end with the closure of residential schools. It continues to this day. Every day, Indigenous people live the very real impacts of systemic racism and colonialism, which affect their mental health and well-being.
“For too long, First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have lived the impacts of systemic racism and colonialism which affects their mental health and well-being,” said Tara McKendrick, CMHA Niagara Executive Director. “The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provides an opportunity for us all to pause, reflect, and learn from Canada’s troubled history.”
CMHA Niagara stands with CMHA National in calling for our health care system and decision-makers to heed the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to support Indigenous communities’ calls to action on reconciliation, and particularly those in support of Indigenous mental health, healing, and well-being.
As part of our own commitment to advance reconciliation, CMHA branches across Ontario have been engaging in meaningful partnerships with Indigenous organizations and leaders in the development and implementation of cultural programs and services, including supporting Indigenous-led mental health promotion within communities, valuing Indigenous healing practices and ways of working rooted in the principles of cultural safety and self-determination, and offering Indigenous cultural awareness training for staff members.
For more information and a schedule of virtual Truth and Reconciliation events open to the general public, visit the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation website.