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Edmonton marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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Events were held across Edmonton to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with thousands draped in orange as a symbol of remembrance for the children who never returned and survivors of residential schools.

A wave of orange swept through the city in a show of solidarity, while flags were at half-mast. Residents found a way to mark the day and take another step towards reconciliation, including events at Fort Edmonton Park and the Telus World of Science and an Orange Shirt Day run at Kinsmen Park.

The idea for the run came after the 215 unmarked graves were found in Kamloops.

“Our community was experiencing a lot of grief and we were looking for ways to come together for community so we could help one another. To me running is sacred, it is ceremony it is healing,” said Anita Cardinal, director of the Orange Shirt Day run.

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Many who were participating in the event were doing it for more than themselves.

“I’m walking for my dad. I’m walking for my mom and those before us, our ancestors to remember the hardships that were imposed on us through colonization,” said Sharlene Alook.

Survivors of residential schools in our country also took part, including Terry Lusty who was taken away in southern Manitoba when he was only three years old.

“I was in for nine years, 365 days of the year, I never ever had somebody come to visit me like some of the others did, who had parents or guardians. It’s not a way for a child to have to grow up,” said Lusty.

Still living with the trauma and physical injuries from his time there, Lusty is spreading the importance of reconciliation.

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“It does my heart good to see the support coming in the way of runners and even people coming here that don’t run, that are here just as support for us, thank you. We thank you for that,” said Lusty.

The run at Kinsmen Park has doubled in size since 2020, and now encompasses many other activities.  Cardinal appreciates the support for the run, however says reconciliation happens more than on September 30th.

“Remembering that you don’t just wear the orange shirt one day, you don’t just practice reconciliation in one day. We practice it everyday and that means learning and growing, amplifying and centreing indigenous voices in any way that you can,” Cardinal said. “Reconciliation is not an end goal. It’s a journey, an on-going journey of learning truth together.”

The event featured an apple dance and they also gave away trees and teddy bears, which is something that Alook holds close to her heart.

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“This bear really symbolizes the kids that have passed on didn’t have that opportunity to be children and many of them were forced out of their mothers arms,” she said.