The Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre is planning a three-day celebration in October for the Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Legacy Project’s Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing space at Nathan Phillips Square.
The Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing space is being developed in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Call to Action 82, which requests the establishment of a highly visible, publicly accessible structure in each capital city across the country to commemorate the victims and survivors of residential schools.
“It’s a cultural gathering — we’ll have over 20 teepees,” says Liana Canzian, communications coordinator with the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. “Every morning we will have a sunrise ceremony and we will have a grand entry on the first day with the unveiling of a replica of the Restoration of Identity sculpture.”
Canzian says the sculpture is the focal point of the Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing space. Chippewas of Nawash artist Solomon King designed the sculpture.
“It’s of the shape of a turtle made over a boulder,” Canzian says. “The artist Solomon King will speak and share the process.”
Canzian says the turtle is significant in many First Nation creation stories.
“On the turtle’s back, it has 13 scutes to align with the 13 moons in the lunar calendar,” Canzian says. “The turtle is a snapping turtle, so it is indigenous to Ontario.”
Canzian says the boulder will have a list of all of the residential schools that once operated in Ontario.
“So the significance of the turtle climbing over the boulder [relates to] the resilience and the strength that the community, survivors and intergenerational members have in continuing to move forward.”
Canzian says interested people can apply for a variety of workshops that will be held during the celebration on Oct. 9-11 and it is free to the public.
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