The Orange Shirt Day committee unveiled a bench and plaque Wednesday near Bear Creek by 99 Avenue that will honour those impacted by residential schools.
Attendees wore orange shirts to show their support during the unveiling, which included a fire ceremony and tea dance drummers.
“It was a really good turnout with everyone here and we were glad that the entire community came together for something like this,” said Shauna Livesey, chair of the Orange Shirt Day committee.
A bench had previously been unveiled last year but needed to be replaced due to vandalism.
“Both the plaque and bench are new for this year,” Livesey said. “And then we were able to host a ceremony to really honour the bench, and we’re hoping that will have some positive future for the bench and plaque this year and we won’t have to replace it again.”
The committee also released an Orange Shirt Day video on social media while asking individuals to take a selfie and use the hashtag #EveryChildMattersGP2020. Livesey noted that engagement and awareness had increased compared to last year.
“It looks different this year just because the world looks different this year,” she said.
“Orange Shirt Day isn’t just about today. It’s about every day and learning and remembering (how) residential schools did impact many in this region, all across Canada, and that’s something we need to put thought into and remember each and every day.”
City Councillor Eunice Friesen offered remarks on behalf of the municipality during the Orange Shirt Day event. Councillors Chris Thiessen and Dylan Bressey also attended.
“Movements like this and ceremonies like this and days like this help us collectively move toward a better place as a society,” Friesen said.
Another reconciliation project, the Sisters in Spirit memorial stone, was unveiled near GPRC last year to remember and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Friesen noted that these kinds of reconciliation projects helped raise awareness.
Council will also consider adding the position of Indigenous liaison meant to help garner more input from Indigenous communities regarding city activities.
“That’s one step but there are many, many more to be had,” Friesen said.
“I’m really honoured to be here today to remember specifically the residential school survivors and those who never made it home.”
Other ceremony participants included representatives from community organizations, school districts, agencies, non-profits and industry.