Jamie Lerat, Ranch Ehrlo Indigenous advisor, was invited to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation commemorative ceremony at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on September 30th.
The name of the ceremony was “Remembering the Children.”
There were many speakers and musical performances.
Jamie said, “The event was incredibly well-organized by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). It was empowering to be surrounded by a sea of orange shirts in a crowd of about 1,200 people. I felt such a connection and sense of belonging. I was honoured to have been invited.”
She went on to say that it was a very impactful and powerful experience, and the scent of burning sweetgrass and sage was soothing.
“Ry Morin, the past executive director of the NCTR performed a beautiful and heartbreaking song while dozens of people made their way through the crowd carrying a huge banner displaying the names of all the children who didn’t return from residential schools. There were 4,140 names on that banner along with the schools they attended. It was shocking how long it needed to be to display all the names, and I was overwhelmed with emotion at the sheer size of it,” she said.
The overall message of the event was to never give up. Speakers urged all Canadians to embrace the day, make a commitment to educate themselves, and recognize and understand the need for the day. They said we can achieve reconciliation if we all work together.
Governor General Mary Simon said that Canadians have to be intentional about how we interact and respect each other, everyone is equal, and the truth is very powerful.
“I think people should really pause and grasp what the day means. They should listen and reflect on what they will do for the rest of the year to advance reconciliation because this journey is more than a single day,” said Jamie.
Murray Sinclair, retired senator and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission famously said, “Education got us into this mess, and education will get us out of it.”