Honouring the Children

Press Release City of Oshawa

OSHAWA – Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle and the City of Oshawa held an Honouring the Children Orange Ribbon Ceremony at Oshawa City Hall, Civic Square on Thursday, August 12, 2021, to honour the Indigenous children who had to endure the residential schools in Canada.

The ceremony included a blessing and smudging ceremony by Dr Shirley Williams, Elder and residential school survivor and a welcome by Mayor Dan Carter, as well as a drum song and call to action by Mary George, President of Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle (please refer to attached statement). Following the ceremony, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members were invited to tie orange ribbons along the railing on Centre Street at Civic Square, on the east side of City Hall.

These actions were to acknowledge the stolen children, to show a sign of respect to them and their families, and to support healing in shattered Indigenous Communities across Canada in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. Community members are invited to come to City Hall (50 Centre St. S.) to bring and tie an orange ribbon on the railing to honour the children until Tuesday, October 5, 2021. The ribbons will eventually be braided together by Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle and displayed at a future date.

“The City of Oshawa is honoured to stand with Indigenous Peoples of Oshawa and across Canada to honour the stolen children of the residential schools and the unmarked graves which were recently uncovered in many locations across Canada,” says Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter. “As Mayor, I am committed to building relationships with Indigenous communities in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation by fostering partnerships including the honouring ceremony held in partnership with Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle.”

Oshawa is situated on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, which is covered by the Williams Treaties and is the present-day home of many First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. 

Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle (BACC) is an Aboriginal-led incorporated non-profit agency that was developed through numerous community partnerships and consultations in the Durham Region. Learn more at https://bawaajigewin.ca.

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Attachment: Statement from Mary George, President Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle.

Media contacts: ­

Mayor Dan Carter

City of Oshawa

905-436-5611; mayor@oshawa.ca

Mary George

President, Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle

905-999-9679; president@bawaajigewin.ca


Statement from the President of Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle

The recent confirmation of children’s remains on the sites of various Indian Residential Schools has been a stark reminder of the terrible pain inflicted upon Indigenous peoples by the Canadian government and the Catholic, Anglican, United, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches during the settlement of Canada.

This is not a dark chapter in history, but the current lived experience for many Indigenous people across Turtle Island.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in June of 2008.  They interviewed survivors and estimated that there were over 80,000 living Indigenous former students of the residential school system at the time.

The 94 Calls to Action were published in 2015.  There is a whole section within the document titled Missing Children and Burial Information with six calls to action listed within.

Our gathering today is one small action towards acknowledging those children and supporting our community.  These ribbons will eventually be braided together and displayed in a location to be determined.  For me, the braid will represent how we will be combining our acknowledgement of the children who had to endure the residential school system, our heartfelt support of their families and remaining survivors, and our commitment to helping revitalize the Indigenous community members connection to culture, language and ceremony together.  I hope it remains as a visual reminder for us all, so we can honour our ancestors, acknowledge the work we have to do now to continue to learn and grow, so we can prepare the way for our future generations.

To our settler neighbours: understand this will not be the last gravesite discovered at a residential school, and remember that while this most recent revelation may have shocked or disturbed you, your Indigenous friends live knowing that these sites exist and that it is their family lying somewhere waiting to be found. Mending the injustices committed against Indigenous peoples requires more than flags flown at half-mast or orange ribbons pinned to shirts- it means working to make people whole by actively supporting the initiatives aimed at cultural restoration and self-determination being undertaken by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in communities everywhere.

Mary George
President
Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle
Bawaajigewin.ca

905-999-9679; president@bawaajigewin.ca