Billings and Northeast Town recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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KAGAWONG – Billings Township and Northeast Town council is unanimously in favour of endorsing September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“The resolution speaks for itself,” stated Billings Councillor Bryan Barker at a meeting last week. “It is quite well written and brings the issue to the forefront.” 

Councillor Barker was referring to a recommendation that had been made to council on a sample resolution passed by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). The AMO board of directors had encouraged members to recognize September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Council passed a motion in favour of the municipality recognizing this day and the draft AMO resolution. The AMO resolution reads, “The AMO board of directors encourages members to recognize September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, with the adoption of the following resolution: “Whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report on June 2, 2015, which included 94 calls to action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation; And whereas the recent discoveries of remains and unmarked graves across Canada have led to increased calls for all levels of government to address the recommendations in the TRC’s Calls to Action; and whereas all Canadians and all orders of government have a role to play in reconciliation; and whereas recommendation No. 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called upon the federal government, in collaboration with aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process; and whereas the federal government has announced September 30, 2021, as the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (National Orange Shirt Day) and a statutory holiday; therefore, be it resolved that the council of Billings of place does hereby commit to recognizing September 30, 2021 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (National Orange Shirt Day) by sharing the stories of residential school survivors, their families, and communities.”

Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson told his council he “certainly suggested promoting” the resolution, but shared his concerns with the portion of the resolution that encouraged “sharing the stories of residential school survivors, their families and communities,” saying he believed the stories were for the people to tell, not the municipality.

Council supported the amended resolution, which reads: “Whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report on June 2, 2015 which included 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation; and whereas the recent discoveries of remains and unmarked graves across Canada have led to increased calls for all levels of government to address the recommendations in the TRC’s Calls to Action; and whereas all Canadians and all orders of government have a role to play in reconciliation; and whereas recommendation No. 80 of the TRC called upon the federal government, in collaboration with aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statuary holiday, a National day for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process; and whereas the federal government has announced September 30, 2021 as the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and a statutory holiday; therefore be it resolved that the council for the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands does hereby commit to recognizing September 30, 2021 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.”