Sarnia marks Truth, Reconciliation Day (GALLERY)

Ceremony held outside of Sarnia City Hall. September 30, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Many remain committed to learning about Indigenous culture and the residential school system as Canada marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Ceremonies were held in downtown Sarnia on Friday.

While outside of City Hall, a local minister spoke with Sarnia News Today to discuss the importance of attending the gathering.

Grace United Church Minister Kenji Marui. September 30, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

“I think as part of the church, as part of the institution that was institutionalizing the racism and cultural genocide, it’s important to be here to commit to repentance and apology. It’s too early to talk about reconciliation yet but it’s a small visible step,” said Minister Kenji Marui of Grace United Church.

He said acknowledging the truth, acknowledging the lands we’re on, and working with Indigenous partners are “token actions” that can be taken.

Others outside of City Hall agreed that learning and acknowledging Canada’s troubling past is key.

Kal Larocque Lines and Sky Holbrook outside of Sarnia City Hall. September 30, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

“I think it’s really important to recognize what happened with residential schools as a whole because we didn’t learn about it in school, especially my generation. I’m 26 so we only kind of glossed over that, said Kal Larocque Lines. “I think it’s very important to talk about this because it’s not talked about and a lot of people have no idea that it actually even happened.”

Sandra Poirier was at Friday’s ceremony as a member of the Ska:na Family Learning Centre in Sarnia. Poirier said it’s important to note that the residential school system had a lasting impact beyond the survivors.

“The more that we make people aware, the more that they have the knowledge that they need to learn about what happened to those children who were in residential schools and the generational trauma it caused,” said Poirier. “It caused generational trauma that was passed down from family member to family member. It’s important to start that healing and we can’t do that until they get their stories out.”

Sandra Poirier. September 30, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Sarnia’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Committee also unveiled a new Residential Schools Memorial Crosswalk at the intersection of Front Street and Lochiel Street. It’s the city’s second commemorative crosswalk unveiled this year.

September 30th was first observed as a federal statutory holiday in 2021.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in the “Beyond the Orange Shirt” event in Niagara Falls.