September 30 marked the second annual Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day “honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.”
To mark this solemn day, the Oshawa Museum opened our doors to our exhibit, A Carrying Place: Oshawa’s Indigenous Story. This exhibit, which opened in 2017, connects our community with their past, embraces the present Indigenous community, and builds towards a spirit of reconciliation and partnership.
We welcomed guests throughout the day, the majority of whom made a point to visit the exhibit because of the day and what it represents. We engaged with visitors with meaningful, and oftentimes the hard and heartbreaking, conversations about reconciliation and about stories told through the exhibition, such as the lives of the ancestral Wendat, the history of the Scugog Carrying Place Trail, and the present Indigenous community.
We were also proud to support a city partnership initiative with the Orange Ribbon Memorials. Bawaajigewan Aboriginal Community Circle and the City installed five locations around Oshawa “where residents are encouraged to bring and tie orange ribbons as a sign of respect to the lost Indigenous children and their families, and to support healing in Indigenous Communities across Canada.” The south location is in Lakeview Park, and we had orange ribbons available in the exhibit as well as in Guy House where guests could take a ribbon and place it at the Lakeview Park memorial, or any memorial they chose. Again, it was wonderful to see many in the community stop by, take a ribbon, and place it at the memorial.
The history of Residential Schools is long and shameful, and sadly, many Canadians were unaware of this system of cultural genocide as it wasn’t talked about. The last school closed in the 1990s – this is not a ‘long ago past.’ Conversations about Residential Schools and about Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people are hard, and they should be. Hard conversations need to happen, and we hope our museum spaces can be safe places to engage in these hard truths.
Thank you to everyone who made the Oshawa Museum part of the Day of Truth and Reconciliation, their day for recognizing our painful past and seeking knowledge so to work towards a better future of true and authentic reconciliation.