PEI

What does Truth and Reconciliation Day mean to you?

Today marks the second annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, a day dedicated to remembering the children who died at church-run and government-funded residential schools and the survivors who made it home.

'It's not going to go away but recognition is really important'

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was made a federal statutory holiday last year. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Today marks the second annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

It's a day dedicated to remembering the children who died at church-run and government-funded residential schools and the survivors who made it home, and acknowledging the families and communities still affected by lasting trauma.

The day was made a federal statutory holiday last year following a recommendation made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sept. 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, which honours the story of Phyllis Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at a residential school. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is encouraging Canadians to wear orange as an act of solidarity.

CBC P.E.I.'s Island Morning spoke with three members of the Lennox Island First Nation, off P.E.I.'s northwest coast, about what Truth and Reconciliation Day means to them.

Jamie Thomas, Grandmother Bear 

"It allows us to create an awareness about part of our history that was not really talked about until very recently. And it helps us to ensure that our survivors and those who have been affected through the intergenerational impacts of residential schools continue to thrive and move forward in positive ways.

It’s a day dedicated to remembering the children who died at church-run and government-funded residential schools and the survivors who made it home. (Brian Morris/CBC)

"We know that everyone's at different levels when it comes to our healing journeys throughout our communities, but it's a day of reconciliation, it's a day of remembering, it's a day of honouring and it's a day of celebrating our resiliency, really. 

"It's a really a day for us to come together and honour those folks and really look at the resiliency … the strength those survivors had when they came back home and we honour those survivors who didn't have a chance to come back home. So it's kind of a day with mixed emotions because we're celebrating but we're also honouring and so it's just a really important day for us here in Lennox Island."

Michelle McLean

"Truth and reconciliation to me means accountability and recognition and the actions taken to make things right. And it's acknowledging the wrongs of the past, learning about our true history so that we can work together to make positive changes.

"I think it's important for people to be more educated on our history because not everybody knew what had happened with residential schools and what survivors had been through. And it has brought it to the light so that people are able to move forward from here instead of thinking that nothing happened and not understanding our history."

Sept. 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, which honours the story of Phyllis Webstad, a former residential school student. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Kayla Sark 

"It means healing to me. That's where I go when I think of it, and how there's still such a long way to go but we have come a ways.

"It's amazing that there's a day dedicated to remembering and educating, which is really important, I feel, with residential schools. My grandmother actually went to a residential school so it really touches my heart thinking about all that stuff and I'm so happy that there's a day. I think it should be every day but there's a day that's dedicated to the survivors.

"There's recognition for what the Indigenous people went through. It's not going to go away but recognition is really important."

With files from Island Morning

now