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Ramara unveils rock garden to mark Truth and Reconciliation

'Today is a day to recognize and reflect on the painful history and impact of the residential school system in Canada,' mayor says

NEWS RELEASE
TOWNSHIP OF RAMARA
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In partnership with Brechin Public School, the Township of Ramara recognizes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a heart-shaped rock garden in honour of the lost children and survivors of residential schools and the impacts on their families and communities.

“Today we observe our second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” states Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers.

"When I was a child, I never learned about the residential school system and the impact it had on our Indigenous communities. Today, our students are learning the truths and through those truths, we honour the survivors, their families and the children who did not return," said Chambers.

“Today is a day to recognize and reflect on the painful history and impact of the residential school system in Canada,” states Mayor Basil Clarke. “I ask the Ramara community as they observe this day to recognize and honour the thousands of Indigenous children and families who suffered and continue to suffer from the legacy of the residential school system. The rock garden is a visual representation of how our Ramara community is committed to learning the history, listening to stories of survivors and their families and reflecting on Ramara’s part in the reconciliation process.”

Weeks leading up to the commemoration, Rosanne Irving, an Elder in the community, and Lisa Ligers, an educator from the Indigenous education department at the Simcoe County District School Board, provided Brechin Public School students and staff and Township of Ramara staff with learning opportunities on the history and impact of the residential school system. Students and staff then took the time to choose a rock that spoke to them, clean it and paint it orange in preparation.

“At Brechin Public School, we are on a journey towards truth and reconciliation as a school community,” said Allison Beecroft, principal at Brechin Public School. “We were pleased when the Township of Ramara reached out to collaborate with us on this initiative.

"With the support of Rosanne Irving and Lisa Ligers, we were able to learn about our collective history and what we can do to be better allies to all of our relations. Our involvement in this initiative helped to reinforce the notion for our students that every child matters," said Beecroft.

"We hope to inspire others in our community to join the conversation about Orange Shirt Day and residential schools. We will continue to move forward with our learning, unlearning and relearning throughout this school year, not just on this upcoming Orange Shirt Day," Beecroft added.

At 10 a.m., children and staff from Brechin Public School joined the members of the council and staff at the Township of Ramara administration building to place their orange-painted rocks in a heart-shaped formation in front of the administration building.

The orange rocks, which students and staff placed in a heart shape, represent at a community level the start of the reconciliation process by learning, understanding and acknowledging the past and working towards a future of learning and understanding.

One rock, which was painted red, was placed in the centre of the heart to represent the children whose bodies have been discovered throughout the country at former residential school locations.

“The world woke up after the bodies of 215 children were discovered buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.,” states Rosanne Irving. “Over the past couple of weeks, Lisa and I have worked closely with the staff and students at Brechin Public School and the staff at the Township of Ramara to share the truth about the residential school system. When students learn the truths and share their learning, they become healers by giving our Indigenous peoples a voice.”

The heart-shaped rock garden display will remain in front of the township administration building at 2297 Hwy. 12 in Brechin.

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