National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
For the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) commissions work from an Indigenous artist in Ontario to foster communal reflection on the day’s importance and themes. We believe that the arts are among the most powerful ways that we can learn from one another – about our personal and collective histories, our current realities, and our hopes and visions for the future. And we are committed to supporting and nurturing Ontario’s artists to do this critical work.
Binesi Mashkiki (Thunderbird Medicine)
illustration by Bridget George, an Anishinaabe author and illustrator raised on Kettle and Stony Point First Nation
"This work features a Thunderbird (Binesi) bringing light to floral growth. The work is meant to be representative of healing, growth and the strength of the spirits of the Indigenous Nations in our territories. The piece features a Tobacco plant in the centre to represent the prayer and spirit work involved in healing. There is cedar within the orange floral arrangements to represent protection for those doing the work to create justice and equity for Indigenous communities. On the edge of the work is sweetgrass as a reminder to approach those who are affected by past and ongoing injustices with kindness. There are 94 stars in the sky to represent the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There are fireflies in the piece to represent the idea of light within the darkness – Justice for our communities. Lastly, there are moths in the centre of the piece to represent the idea of always moving toward the light and hope."
In 2021, the Government of Canada designated September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. September 30th is also recognized as Orange Shirt Day – an Indigenous-led initiative to raise awareness of the individual, family and community intergenerational impacts of residential schools, and to remind all Canadians that every child matters.
The OAC recognizes this as a day to honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children who were harmed and whose lives were lost at Canada’s residential schools and the healing journey of survivors and their families. 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.
The OAC acknowledges that an ongoing and long-term commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous communities is necessary, and that this commitment must happen at a personal, professional and systemic level.
In support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, OAC seeks to advance reconciliation through its granting programs for Indigenous artists and arts organizations and by expanding its ongoing relationships with Indigenous communities. The 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. Read more about OAC’s commitment to and support for Indigenous arts.