5 ways to honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in London, Ont.

Gatherings are taking place across London, Ont., to mark the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also called Orange Shirt Day, on Friday, Sept. 30.

Ceremonial walks, concerts and gatherings will take place Friday

A man holds an orange smoke stick while holding a purple flag in a crowd of people wearing orange every child matters shirts
Thousands gathered in downtown London, Ont., for the Turtle Island Healing Walk on July 1, 2022 to remember Indigenous children who died and suffered abuse at Canada's residential schools. (Michelle Both/CBC)

Gatherings are taking place across London, Ont., to mark the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also called Orange Shirt Day, on Friday, Sept. 30.

The day honours Indigenous children forced to attend residential schools across Canada — survivors, those who died and those affected by the lasting trauma.

"It is a day to honour residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors," said Alana Pawley, knowledge exchange co-ordinator at Atlohsa Family Healing Services. 

"For me, it's a very meaningful day. It is in some ways a hopeful day," said Pawley, a member of Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. "I have family members that have been impacted by day schools, so it is also a very difficult day – a day of healing and education as well." 

It is also a time to join together as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to decide how to walk forward together and support each other, she said. 

"It's up to all of us to decide what this day means. That's what reconciliation is about."

A jingle dress dancer wearing red dances in a field
Jingle dress dancers will begin at 11 a.m. ET at the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation gathering at The Green in Wortley Village in London, Ont. (Courtesy of Jason Plant)

Lighting of the fire & gathering, 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. 

Atlohsa Family Healing Services is hosting a gathering to honour past and present relatives and honour Indigenous culture with drumming, jingle dress dancing and smoke dancing, language workshops and more on The Green in Wortley Village.

The day will start with a lighting of the fire at sunrise followed by a gathering from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The lighting of the fire is an Anishinaabe practice "that helps greet the new day, to give thanks and to offer prayers for the work that we're about to undertake," said Pawley. "The reason that we do that is so that everything that unfolds for the day is guided by the spiritual world.

"The day is open for everybody, so all are welcome to attend in the spirit of reconciliation," she said. 

The gathering is in partnership with the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Chippewa Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre. 

Community members gathered at the Nibi Walk opening ceremony on Sept. 30, 2021, at the Mount Elgin Industrial School memorial. (James Chaarani/CBC)

Ceremonial Nibi Walk -  7 a.m. 

A youth-led Nibi Walk will start at 7 a.m. at the residential school monument built to honour the thousands of children forced to attend Mount Elgin Industrial Institute on Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. 

Walkers and runners will embark on a 32-kilometre journey to Ivy Park in downtown London, some joining as a relay along the way. 

"This walk is to aid as part of the healing process by countering the violent ripple effects that have been resulted from the impact of the residential school system," Tracey Whiteye of N'Amerind Friendship Centre told CBC News.

"[It] is about the truth regarding the impact of the residential schools continue to have on Indigenous peoples of Canada," she said. 

Artist Mike Cywink works on one of the large panels that will become part of a mural hung outside of the N'Amerind Friendship Centre on Colborne Street. (Kate Dubinski/CBC )

Mural unveiling, 2 p.m. 

A mural by Ojibway artist Mike Cywink inspired from the stories of residential school survivors will be unveiled outside N'Amerind Friendship Centre at 260 Colborne St. in London at 2 p.m. 

The mural, called "We are still here," was painted on seven 12-foot-high panels with the help of student artists to increase awareness about the history of Canada's residential schools and celebrate Indigenous art, culture, knowledge and history. 

"When people drive by and see the friendship centre, they're going to see friendship, peace and stories. And that's the truth and the reconciliation that we're continuing to work on," said Whiteye.

The event will feature a jingle dress healing ceremony by Eagle Flight Singers, with a smoke dance and Delaware skin dance led by Lotunt Honyust of Oneida of the Thames. 

Deantha Edmunds is Canada's only Inuk soprano. She'll perform at Western University's Paul Davenport Theatre on Sept. 30 at 12:30 p.m. (courtesy Mason Photography)

Deantha Edmunds concert, 12:30 p.m. 

Canada's first Inuk classical singer, Deantha Edmunds, will join composers Catherine Magowan and Spy Dénommé-Welch for a concert at Western University's Paul Davenport Theatre with a livestream. 

The program will include musical works Sojourn and RADAR written by composer Magowan and Dénommé-Welch, Algonquin-Anishnaabe associate professor at Western and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous arts, knowledge systems and education. 

The concert commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is part of The Don Wright Faculty of Music's "Fridays at 12:30" concert series. A Q & A period will follow at 1:30 p.m. 

London illustrator and children's author Bridget George is featured on the London Public Library's reading list for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. (, Douglas & McIntyre)

Reading Indigenous voices

The London Public Library is encouraging Londoners to centre Indigenous voices by releasing reading lists for all ages in recognition of National Truth and Reconciliation Day. 

Some picks for children include It's a Mitig! by London-based illustrator and children's author Bridget George, and We all Play by Cree–Métis author Julie Flett. 

Adults reading recommendations include Seven Fallen Feathers by Anishinaabe journalist Tanya Talaga and a book on Indigenous women, work and history by Mary Jane Logan McCallum, a member of Munsee-Delaware Nation.

The library will be closed in honour of the holiday, but regular hours return Saturday. 

With files from Kate Dubinski and James Chaarani