The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, September 30 as designated by the federal government as a general holiday and all EPL locations will be closed to recognize the day.
EPL acknowledges the tragic legacy of the residential schools and remains committed to the TRC’s Calls to Action. On Thursday, September 30, we honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis residential school survivors, their families and communities, as a crucial part in the ongoing process of reconciliation.
This past summer, as confirmation of mass grave sites were revealed at residential schools across the country, EPL joined many others in sharing our sorrow and condolences and stood with Indigenous friends, colleagues, family and coworkers. We are grateful for the wisdom and teachings of EPL’s Elder in Residence, Nôhkum Jo-Ann Saddleback as she graciously shares her knowledge with me, EPL staff and Edmontonians.
I continue to educate myself and deepen my understanding of the history of Indigenous people and residential schools. Here are a few recommendations including From the Ashes, a memoir by Jesse Thistle that reinforces the terrible treatment of Indigenous people and the many failures of our systems. Thistle revisits his heart-wrenching past, including being abandoned by his mother and then his abusive father at a very young age, experiencing homelessness and addiction, and ending with survival and hope for a better future.
Another recommendation is the powerful and moving graphic novel by local author and senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson, The Outside Circle, which portrays the experience of two brothers submerged in a life of poverty, drug abuse, and violence through their efforts to overcome the historical traumatic effects of residential schools on Indigenous peoples. The compelling story, set in Edmonton, is accompanied by powerful illustrations that candidly reveal the abuse and long-lasting impacts of residential schools.
Finally, I encourage you to read 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act to continue to acknowledge and learn about Indigenous history. As author Bob Joseph states:
In the short term, if Canadians can stay committed to reconciliation, personally review the 94 recommendations drawn up by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and pursue the ones relevant to them, perhaps we could see the strengthening of the nation-to-nation relationship and create a better, more prosperous Canada that lives up to its fundamental ideology of recognition of human rights not just abroad but at home as well. (p.105)
On the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, I hope you too will join me in continuing to listen, learn and deepen our understanding of this tragic legacy and take time to recognize the significance of this day. Together we must learn about this dark and painful past and acknowledge the truth, so we can move towards true reconciliation.
EPL encourages all Edmontonians to observe the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation by taking the time to access the resources and information available at EPL in order to reflect on and recommit to deepening their understanding of Indigenous history in Canada, the journey towards reconciliation and how it impacts all Canadians.