Recognizing Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On September 30, Durham College (DC) recognized Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by hosting a number of events to help foster understanding and a commitment to change. These included the sharing of personal pledges from DC students and employees online and in-person, and a screening of the film Indian Horse.

The Naanaagide’endamowin Courtyard

In addition, members of the campus community gathered in the courtyard of the Centre for Collaborative Education for a special ceremony to signal its transformation into an outdoor education space dedicated to Indigenous education.

Dr. Elder Shirley Williams began the event by offering an opening prayer before announcing the space’s Anishnaabemowin name. Now known as the Naanaagide’endamowin Courtyard, which means The Art of Thinking, plans for further Indigenization were also revealed, including the creation of gardens to grow Sacred Medicines, and the installation of QR codes near the various elements throughout the courtyard, which will link to the First Peoples Indigenous Centre webpage and provide information about Indigenous Ways of Knowing.

One element already in place was a newly planted weeping willow tree to commemorate the Indigenous children who did not make it home from Indian Residential, Day and Industrial Schools. Long recognized for its pain-relieving medicinal properties, the weeping willow signifies strength. Its pliable limbs can bend without breaking, signifying the resilience and adaptability of Indigenous communities.

The hope is that the DC community, sheltered under the branches of the weeping willow, will use the courtyard for reflection and quiet contemplation on the lives that were forever altered by the Indian Residential School system, remembering those children who never returned to the loving care of their communities. It will also serve as a place where individuals can review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, considering what they can do personally and professionally to ensure that the calls to action are fully realized.

For more information about the First Peoples Indigenous Centre at DC visit