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Historic site to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

'The programming provided by Sainte-Marie among the Hurons gives us an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture,' says minister of tourism, culture and sport

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation recognizes the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system, and it respectfully honours the survivors and those who never came home, as well as their families and communities.

It is the responsibility of present and future generations to acknowledge this history and legacy through education, care and open dialogue. In support of the recognition of this dark period in Canadian history and its lasting, cumulative, multigenerational effects on Indigenous peoples, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is committed to acknowledging and advocating for the empowerment of these stories through empathy, respect and understanding.

On Sept. 30, the historic site will be hosting a day of commemoration and reflection and will be offering the opportunity for all to focus on their own journey toward Truth and Reconciliation. Sainte-Marie will also be providing a free virtual learning platform from Sept. 25 to Oct. 5 online at to support and continue this important work.

“Sept. 30 marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and is a day dedicated to reflecting on the impacts of the Canadian Indian residential school system,” said Neil Lumsden, minister of tourism, culture and sport. “The programming provided by Sainte-Marie among the Hurons gives us an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture. I encourage everyone to visit Midland to participate and educate themselves to help further the dialogue on Truth and Reconciliation.”

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons offers free commemorative programming both in person and online to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The program will consist of conversations with leaders on reconciliation, discussions about Indigenous foodways and crafts and places for thoughtful reflection. This day of commemoration will honour Truth and Reconciliation through a provocative journey and the empowerment of Indigenous voices and cultural revitalization activities.

A sampling of these activities will include an inclusive opening ceremony in which the sacred fire will be lit to provide participants the opportunity to present cedar offerings. The historic site will also offer participants the opportunity to build knowledge and respect for Indigenous cultural traditions, including the importance of medicinal plants and the creation of a medicine pouch.

“Today, and every day, we recognize Canada’s dark chapter in history and work towards reconciliation by moving forward with respect, empathy and understanding with Indigenous partners,” said Greg Rickford, minister of Indigenous affairs. “We take every opportunity to recognize and amplify Indigenous stories to provide opportunities for learning, and I am thankful that the Sainte-Marie historical site will be providing this in-person and virtual learning platform for visitors to reflect on.”

As part of the participants’ journey, the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will be exhibited with the hope of providing thoughtful steps forward for individuals. The interactive Indigenous Floor Map, provided by Canadian Geographic, will include tools for learning about the impacts of residential schools, as well as the resilience of Indigenous peoples and their unique cultures throughout North America.

To honour survivors of the residential school system, and those who never came home, Sainte-Marie’s historical interpreters and staff will wear orange. Admission will be free.

The online portion of this initiative will be streamed live on Sept. 25 with opening ceremonies followed by learning sessions led by First Nations leaders and cultural experts. Topics will range from language revitalization to allyship. This content will be available on demand until Oct. 5 free of charge to allow teachers, students and all who would like to join the journey a chance to access it. Participants need only register to receive a link.

“We, too, are on a path toward Truth and Reconciliation, as an organization,” said Will Baird, general manager of Huronia Historical Parks. “This initiative is one way we can contribute to this nationwide effort to heal relationships with Indigenous peoples while creating opportunities for learning and dialogue.”

Sainte-Marie is inviting local schools to get involved in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by creating orange shirt artwork to be displayed in the historic site’s visitors centre in late September and early October. If you are a Simcoe County teacher looking for ways to engage your class in reflection on this topic, reach out to [email protected] for details and supplies.

To learn more about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, in person or online, visit The historic site is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration for online learning is also open now.