Smiths Falls’ Mayor Shawn Pankow shared several updates from the Racism and Discrimination Task Force during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday night.
There have been numerous discussions with the Task Force – driven by discovery of unmarked graves in residential schools across the country – that we should mark Truth and Reconciliation. “In a consult with our first nations community, there was consensus that we should have an event as our community’s first act of reconciliation.”
Truth & Reconciliation week begins across Canada on September 27.
Mayor Pankow noted that the Task Force intends to hold the event October 1, during the evening at dusk. There will be a small service and an act of reconciliation. People will be invited to bring solar lights as a temporary memorial to the Indigenous children lost to residential schools across Canada. This event will be led by the Indigenous members of the Task Force, along with an Indigenous drummer who will be helping guide the way.
Pankow described this as a “significant way for our community to acknowledge and remember in a way that we have not yet.” The event will begin at approximately 630pm at Centennial Park on October 1, and the procession will lead from Centennial Park to Duck Island. Solar lights will be left on Duck Island as a temporary memorial.
Mayor Pankor noted that “there will also be a mini powwow the afternoon of October 2.”
As well as establishing this memorial event, the Task force has been discussing opportunities for a permanent monument for reconciliation, guided by Indigenous members of the task force. Councillor McKenna spoke in favour of this, and added that the process in choosing a monument is complicated and delicate. “They’re doing due diligence, digging into the purpose of it and what we hope will come of it. We will take the time and have the discussions we need to do it well.”
Mayor Pankow pointed out that the Task Force is continuing to be led by cultural advisors, and the style of monument will be culturally suitable.