Indigenous peoples from all over Turtle Island — the Indigenous name for Canada — gathered at Nathan Phillips Square to commemorate the second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
The Indigenous Legacy Gathering, a two-day event, allows the chance for people from across the city to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors. In the middle of the square burns a sacred fire, looked after by several Elders.
Darren McGregor, from the Ojibwe nation, was asked by Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre to spend the day overseeing the sacred fire.
“Understanding how connected we are to everything else that is spiritual, everything else that is animate in this physical realm we live in, our spirit is calm, and at peace, and at home,” he said.
“My knowledge base isn’t something I learned in school,” McGregor said. “My knowledge base is something I’ve learned from sitting and talking with our knowledge keepers, our elders, and going to ceremonies.
“It’s how I’ve learned to understand a little bit more about myself,” he said.
Laurie Okimawinew, a health support worker for residential school survivors at the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, wants to bring more awareness to the residential school experience.
“We’re here today to really raise awareness about the residential school experience,” she said. “We are celebrating, we are still here, we still have the songs, we still have the language,” Okimawinew said over the sound of drumming coming from the main stage.
The Indigenous Legacy Gathering wants to engage everyone, from school children to politicians. There were children’s arts and crafts activities, several Indigenous vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to orange shirts, as well as a teepee that hosts residential school survivors who are showing incredible courage by being open to sharing their stories with the public.
Micah Delűx, a two-spirit person, told Humber Et Cetera that times are changing.
“I’m here today to share stories, to share traditions,” they said. “Times are changing rapidly, they’re progressing one way really well and the other way really well. We need to pay attention to these times,” Delűx said.
Okimawinew told Humber Et Cetera to share these experiences with post-secondary students to show an alliance with Indigenous nations in Tkaronto, commonly referred to as Toronto,
“We want you to educate yourself, go to organizations and say here is what I know, I want to be an ally. Talk about it, share these experiences with each other, don’t be afraid to speak about what happened to the Indigenous People,” Okimawinew said.
McGregor said students should know that Indigenous People from Canada are not from history, “Indigenous People from Canada are with the history,”
The Indigenous Legacy Gathering concludes Friday at 8 p.m.