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Truth and reconciliation at the forefront Friday

A teepee was built on the hill above the city and was lit with orange lights until midnight on Sept. 30.

THE BATTLEFORDS — Honour, remembrance and togetherness were at the forefront of many people's minds Friday as the Battlefords honoured the children who never returned home, the survivors of residential schools and their families and communities on the 2nd Annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

The City of North Battleford, the Town of Battleford, The Ridge, and other local organizations hosted and supported events with commemoration in mind, as members of the community took in the events, moved by the spirit of remembrance, honour, and reverence for those affected by residential schools.

Local representatives from Battleford’s and North Battleford’s councils, RCMP, Indigenous communities and local businesses began the events Friday morning with a smudging ceremony in a teepee at The Ridge.

Indigenous elders smudged and prayed, speaking on the importance of togetherness, growth, and reconciliation.

“It’s in honour and memory of the children, not only to grieve but in memory of those all across Canada who didn’t make it home,” said Grant Beaudry, CEO of MGBLM Economic Development Corp.

The elders spoke of their desire to come together to acknowledge residential school survivors and move into the future. The elders added that they want to see Canada move beyond an "us vs them” mentality and work together to care for the earth and our society, not separately but together.

Later, The Ridge held an inauguration jointly with the Catholic church for the new teepee shrine. The teepee was erected at the Oblates of Saint Mary with a portrait of Snow Woman and was dedicated by local indigenous leaders in memory of the residential schools.

The same morning, The Town of Battleford raised the Star Children Flag in the spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous drummers and singers, prayer, and smudging ceremonies. Gavin Baptise raised the flag with elders, Indigenous leaders, and Mayor Ames Leslie in attendance.

Later, The City of North Battleford also raised the Star Children Flag, with Mayor David Gillan, Mayor Ames Leslie, Karen Whitecalf, Chief Sylvia Weenie, Chief Kenny Moccasin, and Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman sharing remarks.

Throughout the day, other organizations joined in honouring the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Battlefords Indian Metis Friendship Centre held their 2nd annual Every Child Matters Event with drummers, powwow dancers, hoop dancers, a balloon wreath and a lunch.

The North Battleford Public Library showed a film by Alanis Obomsawin titled Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair, which shares the speech given by the senator when he accepted the WFM-Canada World Peace Award.

The day ended with a reception for the new knowledge board erected at King Hill with many local dignitaries in attendance. A teepee was built on the hill above the city and was lit with orange lights until midnight on Sept. 30.

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