National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 is a national statutory holiday in honour of Indigenous children and survivors across Canada who were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on and commemorate the painful legacy and impact of residential schools. These children are Le Estcwicwéy̓ (pronounced “le squeak-way,” which translates to “the missing” in the language of the Tk‘emlúpsemc people in British Columbia.).
This virtual session will unify and connect PSAC members through storytelling and human experience. Participants will learn more about the importance of reconciliation and the meaning of Le Estcwicwéy̓, have an opportunity to ask questions, participate in traditional Indigenous beading, and leave with ideas for how to support Indigenous communities in their search for truth and justice.
- What: Le Estcwicwéy̓ virtual panel discussion and beading activity
- Who: Tina Vincent, Knowledge Keeper; Charlene Bearhead, Vice-President - Learning and Reconciliation, Canadian Geographic Enterprises; Sharon DeSousa, PSAC National Executive Vice-President
- When: Wednesday, September 20, 6:30 – 8 p.m. (PDT) and Thursday, September 28, 6:30 – 8 p.m. (EDT)
Note: Both sessions are the same, please only register for one. These sessions will be provided in English only with no interpretation (register for the French session here).
About the panel discussion and activity
A total of 144 residential schools were attended by 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children between the ages of four and 16. At least 6,000 children are recorded as having died while at residential schools, which doesn’t include those found and who continue to be found in unmarked graves on former residential school sites. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society estimates there are more than 10,000 children located in unmarked burial sites at residential schools and Indian hospitals across the country.
This virtual panel discussion and beading activity will build on the history and stories of residential schools as we move together towards reconciliation and healing. At the end of the session, we will discuss what members can do in their locals and committees to better educate other members and support Indigenous communities.
Beading plays a significant and often sacred role within Indigenous communities. Beading circles have been a key communal space for the intergenerational teaching of traditional skills and oral histories, and the sharing of stories, ideas, and deep reflections. Over the last several decades, Indigenous artists and teachers have employed arts and crafts for healing – to rebuild, empower, and educate.
About the panelists
Tina Vincent, Knowledge Keeper, is well known to many PSAC leaders and members often opening events and welcoming us to Algonquin Territory. Tina comes from the Algonquin communities of Barrière Lake and Kitigan Zibi First Nations and is from the bear clan. She has spent more than 30 years working for her Anishnabe people in the field of addictions recovery, trauma recovery, and violence against Anishnabe women and children. She follows in her grandmother’s footsteps, encouraging families toward healthy lifestyle choices, strong parenting skills, and pride in their Anishnabe culture and traditions.
Charlene Bearhead is a mother, grandmother, and educator with decades of experience in the educator sector. She led the negotiations of the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative on behalf of Treaty 6, Treaty 7, and Treaty 8 Alberta, as well as Ontario. She also led the establishment of the Early Childhood Services division for the Alberta regional office of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada. Alongside Sylvia Smith, Bearhead was the national coordinator for Project of Heart, which was tasked with educating Canadians on the history and legacy of residential schools. From 2015 to 2017, Bearhead was the education coordinator for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. She subsequently was named education coordinator for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.