KAWARTHA LAKES-The ‘215+ Taken’ painted stones art installation by the Truth and Reconciliation Community (TRC) Bobcaygeon group is now on display on the eastern steps of City hall.
The stones were painted by more than 50 members of the community including children to represent the Indigenous children whose bodies were found buried next to the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Members of the group offered reflections on the stones, and how the community is responding to take steps toward reconciliation. Watch the video on YouTube.
Mayor Letham and several Councillors were in attendance wearing t-shirts created by Freddy Taylor, Curve Lake First Nation artist in residence and residential school survivor. Everyone is welcome to visit and view the stones at City Hall until the morning of September 30 when they will be returned to Bobcaygeon for ceremonies.
During the Regular Council meeting of September 21, Mayor Letham acknowledged the story behind the November 30 National Day of Truth and Reconciliation:
“The orange t-shirt and flag are a symbol of the Every Child Matters movement. September 30 was declared Orange Shirt Day in 2013, in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well being, and as an affirmation of the commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters. It was inspired by Phyllis Webstad’s story. She wrote:
‘We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school! When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.’
September 30 has been a day to recognize the devastating impact of the Indian Residential School system and commemorate all of the children taken. It has been observed at the end of September in Indigenous communities across the country. Now that the federal government has implemented the TRC Call to Action #80 and designated September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, all of Canada can join in this day of remembrance and reflection, as we are doing here today on the last Council meeting prior to September 30”.
A video of Mayor Letham’s full remarks is available on the City’s YouTube channel.
During the month of September, the Every Child Matters flag will remain at half-mast and orange lights shine on City Hall.
Learn more about the TRC Bobcaygeon Community at www.trcbobcaygeon.org.