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Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Updated: Nov 2, 2021 September 30, 2021 @9:10am

Over its history, Alberta had the largest number of residential schools of any province in Canada, was host to twenty-five federally-run residential schools and as many as 1 in 5 residential school student deaths happened in Alberta(1).

Today in Stettler, there will be several observances happening to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which will remain similar to observations of Orange shirt day, an indigenous-led grassroots movement that has been honoured here for the last six years.

The Jewel Theatre offered a free showing of the film ‘Indian Horse’ on Tuesday, The film was free to the public thanks to the sponsorship of Clearview School Division. The film is based on the book by the same name, written by Canadian Indigenous writer Richard Wagamese and tells the story of Saul Indian Horse, a child who survived Residential school through his love for hockey.

Also scheduled to have shown at the Jewel Theatre today, free to the public, was ‘We Were Children'. This award-winning documentary film had been sponsored by Rairdan Services Inc. and describes the actual experiences of indigenous children in residential schools. This movie deals with mature themes and is recommended for ages 16+. Unfortunately, the theatre had to cancel the film and has decided to close its doors for a two-week self-imposed Fire Break due to concerns of rising COVID numbers and online harassment.

The Stettler Public Library will be hosting an Orange-shirt-themed, “Something Cool After School” event for kids aged 6+. They will be reading Phyllis Webstad’s “Orange Shirt Story” and designing an Orange shirt as a craft.

Clearview Public Schools will be honouring the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with orange shirts and planned activities. Past activities have included reading stories written by residential school survivors, making crafts, and having conversations about the origins and need for Orange shirt day.

Clearview Associate Superintendent Peter Neale said “The Board believes having our teachers, staff, and students learning and talking about these important issues for this year provides benefits for all concerned, and ensures that the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten”

The last Residential School in Canada closed in Saskatchewan in 1996.

The province of Alberta is built on land covered by multiple Treaties signed by representatives of the Crown and the indigenous populations of the area. Treaty 6, signed in 1876, covers all of the lands which would eventually become Stettler and the County of Stettler. Stettler is also included in Metis Nation of Alberta Region 2.


Jimilee Ayotte, Editor


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