Skip to content

Crowds gather downtown for Truth & Reconciliation Day in Regina

The Circle Project and partners held a gathering in downtown Regina to recognize the first ever National Truth & Reconciliation Day with the community.

REGINA — A sea of orange covered City Square Plaza in Regina over noon today, as residents gathered to honour the survivors, descendants and victims of the residential school system for National Truth and Reconciliation Day. 

Organized by partnered organizations The Circle Project, the Regina Work Prep Centre and Munz Media, the afternoon event invited attendees to gather together to learn and honour those affected by the residential school system in Canada.

“We just decided that we wanted to be out in the community and create an environment where people could come together in reconciliation,” said Circle Project executive director Ann Perry.

Sept. 30 has been celebrated as Orange Shirt Day for several years already, and Perry said part of the desire to host a public gathering was to recognize the day being made into a federal holiday.

“Nobody knows how to feel or how to act or what they should be doing, so we wanted to help eliminate that discomfort [and] gather the community to wear orange shirts in respect and recognition and in honour of the residential school survivors,” said Perry.

Declaring Orange Shirt Day as a national holiday is one of calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, and Perry said it was important to recognize the moment in history.

“We are so happy to see that there's a day set aside that each of us have an opportunity as members of the community, of Regina and of Canada, to acknowledge the truth of what happened to Indigenous people,” said Perry.

With no formal schedule, she said the event was meant to keep the focus on community connection and education.

Perry said the turnout was overwhelming, far exceeding the expectations of organizers, and very heartening to see. 

Attendees were welcomed to write their own messages of truth and reconciliation on orange shirt paper cut-outs, as part of the event’s festivities, which were displayed at the centre of the square. 

“We cut out 250 [orange shirts], thinking that was optimistic and we have run out,” said Perry, mid-event. “So we’ve invited people to write their messages of hope on the orange tablecloths that we have, and we’ll be transcribing those as well.”

Perry said the orange shirt messages will be saved after today, potentially compiled into a book to share with elders.

“As an organization, we were very concerned about our elders in the community [through COVID], so we’ve kept in regular touch and this is something we hope to share with them,” said Perry.

She also said the messages could be displayed in The Circle Project's new facility, after the organization completes its move.

“We’ve got lots of great windows, right at ground level, and we’re going to be right in the heart of North Central and so we can certainly hang and display them there,” said Perry. “We're not just going to take them back to the office and put them in a file.”

The noon event was one of many taking place in the city in honour of the first national holiday. 

Regina Public Library hosted author and residential school survivor Bevann Fox for an event, and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum hosted a virtual presentation with Knowledge Keeper Tim Poitras and musician Brent Bellegarde this afternoon.

Government House also welcomed visitors this morning, with Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty revealing the province’s plans for the residential school memorial to be built on the grounds. 

A gathering at the Legislative Building has also been organized for this evening. 

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks