The road to reconciliation begins with truth, illustration by Mishiikenh Kwe / Autumn Smith.
The red symbol in the sky is inspired by Anishinaabe pictographs and represents the path to reconciliation expressed by a turtle who symbolizes truth. The people embody Orange Shirt Day. The moon and stars represent both survivors of the residential school system and the Sixties Scoop who passed down their stories, teachings and cultural knowledge in spite of hardships, as well as those who did not survive.
In 2021, the Government of Canada designated September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors of the residential school system and the children who never returned home from them. Acknowledging the history of Canada’s appalling treatment of Indigenous peoples and the ongoing effects of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
September 30th will be a day of reflection for Ontario Arts Council’s (OAC) Board of Directors and staff and is an opportunity to learn about the impact colonialism has had and continues to have on Indigenous peoples and how we as individuals and as an organization can do our part in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. In doing so, we honour both the lives of the innocent children who were lost as well as the healing journey of survivors and their families. To allow time to reflect, OAC will open on September 30 but only for time-sensitive inquiries.
The OAC acknowledges that an ongoing and long-term commitment to reconciliation is necessary and that this commitment must happen at a personal, professional and systemic level.
As an agency committed to equity and access, OAC affirms its commitment to First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists based in Ontario through programs and initiatives that specifically aim to support their creativity, collaboration and success.
A number of organizations across Ontario and Canada are offering activities as part of their response to the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Culture Days has events throughout Canada, with a majority of in-person and virtual events based in Ontario. We also encourage you to look for activities in your own community.
Mishiikenh Kwe / Autumn Smith is an Ojibway / Odawa artist and a member of the Caribou clan who currently resides on Magnetawan First Nation. She is a self-taught painter whose biggest inspiration are her grandmother’s stories and her experiences as a young Anishinaabekwe.