Today, Canada marks its second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation which grew from a grassroots campaign called Orange Shirt Day. This day is to recognize and acknowledge the legacy of the residential school system. We honour the children who never returned home and the survivors, as well as their families and communities. This day is also meant to encourage deeper reflection, learning, and public dialogue on the relationship connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples as we build towards reconciliation.
We began our day with a Sunrise Ceremony and flag raising, led by Debora Egerton, Chair of the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle. It was a time for us to have a brief observance at the beginning of the day out of respect and awareness about the history and legacies of the residential school system in Canada.
Indigenous Peoples have a long history of experiencing colonization and oppression that is often reflected in interactions with the health care system and health care providers. The evidence is clear that Indigenous Peoples experience poorer health outcomes because of systemic racism embedded in policies, practices, and institutions. Headwaters is committed to establishing culturally safe spaces for care discussions, treatment exploration and care delivery.
We are committed to the calls-to-action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, specifically those focused on meaningful change in health care.
Our hospital is committed to working with First Nations and Indigenous partners to learn what is important for us to know as health care providers to ensure we are respecting Indigenous practices, values, and beliefs which impact care. We will also work to reduce structural barriers to access to care and active participation in their care and experiences.
We continually seek to understand and learn from other health care organizations locally, across the province, and beyond. Locally, we are working with the Community Wellness Council of Hills of Headwaters Collaborative Ontario Health Team, with our Accessibility and Equity Committee, Patient and Family Advisors, the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC), and other hospital partners. Our work has led us to redevelop our multi-faith space and support smudging ceremonies inside and outside our hospital.
September is also a time when new can reflect, learn, and ask ourselves how we are contributing to a culture in which people are encouraged to ‘speak up’ – a culture where people feel safe and heard, and where there are effective supports to ensure that racism is addressed appropriately, swiftly and comprehensively.
Listed below are several other events you may choose to attend locally.
On Friday, September 30 7:00pm to 9:00pm Jack Downing Park, 140 Main Street, Shelburne. The Town of Shelburne’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is hosting an Orange Shirt Day and Every Child Matters Ceremony. The program includes a flag raising, blessing of the Every Child Matters Crosswalk and Candle Light Reflection Walk.
On Saturday, October 1 at 1:00 p.m. the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle is holding a Memorial Walk for Residential Schools. Attendees are asked to meet at the main door of the Alder Street Recreation Centre in Orangeville. The walk will go to the Medicine Wheel Garden where there will be reflection, and silent prayers as well as a smudge available for anyone who wants to participate.
On Saturday, October 8 at 2:00 p.m. there is an Indigenous Day of Action, where attendees will walk from the County of Dufferin Court House on Elizabeth Street to Orangeville’s Town Hall. Across Canada, the day is marked by ceremonies and celebrations that highlight cultural performances and activities.
The privilege for leading change lies with each of us individually; we look forward to the leadership and guidance from our First Nations and Indigenous colleagues and partners on this journey.
We are all connected, and we can move forward together, united in thoughtfulness and compassion and guided by our core value of kindness and strategic direction of Getting Even Better.
Thank you to everyone for your reflection on this significant day and for your commitment to work together and move us forward on the path to reconciliation, every day.
Included in the photo are, from left to right:
Jack Hutchison, Vice President, People and Culture; Cathy van Leipsig, Vice President, Corporate Services & CFO; Tiffany Smith, Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle; Kim Delahunt, President & CEO; Dr. Hugh O’Brodovich, Chair of the Board, HHCC; Debbie Egerton, Chair, Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle and Annette Jones, Vice President, Patient Experience, Health Integration and Chief Nursing & Health Disciplines Executive.