The Town of Ponoka, which is located on Treaty 6 territory, will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, Sept. 30, to recognize and commemorate the history of residential schools.
To honour the importance of this new federal statutory holiday, the town flags at the Ponoka Civic Centre will be lowered to half-mast.
All Town facilities (except for the arena complex, which will be open in the evening) will also be closed for the day with regular hours resuming on Monday, Oct. 3.
“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a time for all of us to take a moment to listen. It is only through listening that we can get to understanding,” said Ponoka Mayor Kevin Ferguson in a press release.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created by the Government of Canada in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 80, which calls for a federal statutory day of public commemoration to reflect on the ongoing impacts of residential schools, and to honour survivors, their families and communities.
Orange Shirt Day
September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led, grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not.
“As a way to bring awareness to the painful legacy of residential schools, the town is also encouraging Ponoka citizens and town staff to wear orange on September 30,” said Sandra Lund, chief administrative officer.
Discovering Truth event
The Town of Ponoka, Wolf Creek Public Schools, the Ponoka Jubilee Library and Canadian Heritage have partnered to host a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation community-wide event called ‘Discovering Truth’ on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Lund said that as part of the town’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, the town is involved in ongoing initiatives to build stronger and meaningful relationships with Ponoka’s First Nations neighbours.
In June, as part of National Indigenous History Month, the Town of Ponoka partnered with Ermineskin Cree Nation, Samson Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe and the Montana First Nation to host Tipi Village during the Ponoka Stampede.
This event gave visitors the opportunity to journey through and explore the tipis, while experiencing Indigenous storytelling, artwork and culture.
“Continuing to strengthen relationships with our neighbours and explore ways that we can work with them to collaborate on initiatives of mutual benefit for all of our communities are priorities of Town Council,” said Lund. “Observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is just one additional way we felt we could show support for our neighbouring Indigenous communities.”