Four Rivers Co-op was one of many companies and businesses doing what it could to mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation while remaining open to provide services.
In Vanderhoof, staff at the Co-op Food Store could be seen ringing up customers Thursday, Sept. 30, in bright orange t-shirts with the words every child matters in bold on the front.
Also, on the t-shirts designed by a staff member were geese to represent the area and some footprints for children, said Four Rivers Co-op general manager Allan Bieganski.
“This is the first year we’ve had the opportunity to do it because it’s now being recognized nationally, and all companies and all organizations are now talking about it,” he said.
“It’s not enough, but it’s a start.”
The new federal statutory holiday was approved by the Government of Canada days after unmarked containing the remains of 215 children were found this past May at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.
Hundreds of more unmarked graves and remains have since been identified at former residential school sites across the country.
“I thought it was a very sad day for our country,” Beiganski said of when Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced ground-penetrating radar was used to locate the remains of 215 children.
“It was very sad news to hear. I don’t know if there’s much more I can say. It’s just very sad to hear some of the negatives about our country’s history.”
A total of 140 federally run Indian residential schools operated in Canada, with the last one having closed fewer than 30-years ago.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities, said the Government of Canada noting public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Bieganski said it has to be followed up with the education of their team and staff.
“We have to show our understanding, our support and our awareness but we have to keep working on educating our staff on not only the Indigenous culture and history across Canada but awareness of the wrongs that have happened across our country,” he added.