Calgary

Alberta marks 2nd National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

As communities across the country mark the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Stoney Nakoda First Nation in Alberta held a small and emotional ceremony Wednesday. 

Event attendees say they’re breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma

Ceremonies, stories, and thousands of orange shirts amid 2nd National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

2 months ago
Duration 1:50
Truth and Reconciliation Day is a direct response to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 80, which calls for a day to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.

Alberta marked the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with ceremonies, stories and thousands of orange shirts. 

Stoney Nakoda First Nation in Alberta held a small and emotional ceremony Thursday. A pipe ceremony, followed by drumming and a jingle dress dance, took place at the Wesley Elders Lodge.

Jeanette Wildman, cultural liaison for Stoney Health Services, was among the group, she shared her experience being a survivor of Morley Indian Residential school — she entered at age four.

Wildman said the time for people to feel shocked by stories like hers is ending.

"There has been enough out there to educate society as a whole, especially across Canada," she said. 

Amanda Goodstoney, who works with Stoney Family Resource Network, said she's healing intergenerational trauma stemming from residential schools. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Wildman said she no longer fears talking about what happened at the residential schools, and the more she tells her story the easier it becomes. 

"I looked at my fellow residential school survivors and I could see that they were still in pain. It gets easier a little bit, but not a whole lot. But now I am not ashamed," she said. 

Amanda Goodstoney, who works as a family support worker with the Stoney Family Resource Network, didn't attend residential school, but many in her family did, including her mother. 

She says it resulted in a tough childhood, but forgiving her mom and hugging her own children is breaking a cycle of intergenerational trauma.

Women wearing ribbon skirts arrive for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

"They know what love is. To feel that hug and to be told I love you, I care about you and you know I'm going to be here for you the pain of the past will not carry on in their lives," she said. 

"I'm giving and receiving at the same time." 

She said on the second year of Truth and Reconciliation Day, she's glad conversations are finally starting to happen. 

"Canada is really starting to speak the truth about what happened to Indigenous people." 

'We need to share those stories' 

The City of Calgary held a moment of silence at Fort Calgary on Friday. 

It was followed by elders speaking to hundreds of people gathered in the crowd about their time in residential schools.

"In the '60s and '70s, we weren't allowed to share our story, people just didn't believe that this existed in Canada. I think that in order for people to know and understand what happened to us in residential schools, we need to share those stories," said Wanda First Rider, a residential school survivor. 

People attend National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

In 2016, the City of Calgary reviewed the 94 calls-to-action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, and found 43 calls the city could directly implement, creating a report called the White Goose Flying report.

Terry Poucette, team lead with the city's Indigenous Relations office, said councillors will get a progress report in December on the local implementation of calls to action. 

"While the City of Calgary has advanced on many of the calls, there is still much more work that it could do." 

Two not-for-profit groups — Colouring It Forward Reconciliation Society and the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth — teamed up to host an event Friday for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Calgary.

The Pokaiks Commemorative Walk and IndigiTRAILS – Remembering Our Children events brought more than a thousand people to Prince's Island.

Diana Frost with Colouring It Forward says this all began as a smaller Orange Shirt Day event four years ago. 

"It shows that Calgarians are starting to want to participate more in Orange Shirt Day and that includes community organizations." 

The annual Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30 is a direct response to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action No. 80, which calls for a day to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.


Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools or by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counselling and crisis support is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.

With files from Terri Trembath, Helen Pike

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