September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a nationwide opportunity for reflection and reckoning. At YWCA Hamilton, we will be marking this moment with discussion, education and engagement, both within the organization and in the community.
First, we must remember that there can be no Reconciliation without first seeking the Truth. For us here at YWCA Hamilton, that means we continue to recognize and reflect on how we were founded as a white, Christian organization, and how YWCA Hamilton’s roots are intertwined with white supremacy and colonization. We are currently pursuing a research partnership in order to review our 130 years of archived materials in order to fully understand the concrete ways we benefited from and participated in those systems of oppression.
We remain focused on our efforts to show allyship and create community partnerships within the Indigenous community, including prioritizing housing for Indigenous women at the new Putman Family YWCA in partnership with HRIC, our local Friendship Centre and Ottawa St. neighbors.
We are also proud to support Roberta and Dawn Hill, two incredible survivors of the Mohawk Institute Residential School, who are leading the campaign to create the Mohawk Village Memorial Park at the former Mohawk Institute. In addition to supporting this good work, we have partnered with ‘We Dance For Life,’ an organization dedicated to healing and gatherings of families of Missing and
Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People spanning across Ontario, Quebec and Western Canada.
As Sept. 30 approaches, our staff will be marking the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation with workshops, training opportunities, and moments of reflection. On September 29, the Healthy Minds @Work committee will host a workshop focusing on Indigenous Mental Health and Allyship. Our entire child care team is undergoing training focusing on Truth and Reconciliation, and on Sept. 30, child care staff and children across all of our centres will be provided with orange shirts and will participate in discussion about the meaning of Orange Shirt Day.
On Sept 30, all staff are invited to a virtual learning session focusing on the explanation and significance of the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, as well as an exploration of the meaning and significance of the land acknowledgment.
In the community, there are also several events that I encourage you to attend. On Sept. 25, several Indigenous organizations in Hamilton are hosting a day of music in Gage Park featuring DJs and traditional singers with Emcee Cheri Maracle. Admission is free, and there will be door prizes, food, vendors, the GO-VAXX Bus and more.
We are also happy to support an initiative led by the Coalition of Hamilton Indigenous Leadership. On the afternoon of Sept. 30, they will be hosting a booth in the common area of Lime Ridge Mall offering orange shirts for donations of $20 each, free orange buttons, two different publications providing information about residential schools and colouring books for kids.
Six Nations is also encouraging the community to engage in an “Act of Awareness” and, using the hashtag #SNOrangeShirtDay, post photos that illustrate what Orange Shirt Day means to you. They have provided several crisis lines for those who may be struggling and need support:
Six Nations 24/7 Mobile Crisis Line: 519-445-2204 or 1-866-445-2204
Six Nations Mental Health and Addictions: 519-445-2143 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm)
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
For further learning and resources about ways to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, please visit YWCA Canada’s resource page.