Town of Cobourg Permanently Flies Every Child Matters Flag at Rotary Harbourfront Park
The flag raising ceremony was, Friday, September 29 at 12pm
At the Monday, September 11 Regular Council Meeting, Cobourg Municipal Council passed a resolution to permanently display the “Every Child Matters” flag on the flagpole in Rotary Harbourfront Park.
The decision of Council to permanently fly “Every Child Matters” flag in Rotary Harbourfront Park, makes Cobourg one of the first municipalities in Ontario to do so. The flag permanently
flies not only as a commemoration but also a commitment to remembering Indigenous lives that were tragically lost within the residential school system which spanned over 150 years,
with the nearest such institution to Cobourg being situated in the Alderville First Nations Reserve.
Yasmyn Belle, Accessibility, Equity Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator
“We respectfully acknowledge that we are locale in the traditional and treaty territory of the Michi Saagiig (Mississauga) and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Wiliams Treaties First Nations, which include: Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations. We respectfully acknowledge that the Williams Treaties First Nations have been stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters, and that today remain vigilant over their health and integrity for generations to come. We are all Treaty people.
Of course, we have grown a custom to reading and listening to these land acknowledgments but I want to take a moment to reiterate why we do them. Land acknowledgments are the practice of giving thanks, appreciation, and respect for all in creation. This includes ancestors, communities, other beings, allied nations, and Mother Earth at the start of gatherings. As part of Truth and Reconciliation, implementing this practice into our regular routines respects and recognizes Indigenous people and culture. It also allows us, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks, to set positive intentions before any gathering. As we move through the rest of this flag raising ceremony, I invite you to pause, reflect and accept today with an open heart and mind.
Today, we gather for the permanent raising of the Every Child Matters flag. It stands as a powerful reminder of the painful legacy of the Canadian residential school system. It is a symbol that represents the Indigenous children who were forcibly separated from their families, their communities, and their cultures for over 150 years. It honours the survivors who endured unimaginable hardships and the children who never returned home.
The origins of this flag are rooted in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, which seek to address the historical injustices inflicted upon Indigenous peoples in Canada. It was through these Calls to Action that the nation came to recognize the need to confront the dark chapters of our history and embark on a path of reconciliation.
The orange color of the flag pays tribute to Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, whose story of having her orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school has become a powerful symbol of the cultural assimilation that took place within these institutions. Phyllis’s experience represents the pain and trauma that countless Indigenous children endured.
The Every Child Matters flag is not just a symbol of the past, it is a call to action for the present and the future. It is a cal to acknowledge the deep and lasting impact of the residential school system on Indigenous communities and to stand in solidarity with survivors and their families. The significance of this flag lies not only in what it represents, but in what it inspires us to do. It inspires us to learn about the history of residential schools, to listen to the stories of survivors, and to educate ourselves and others about the legacy of colonialism and oppression. It calls upon us to engage in meaningful dialogue with Indigenous communities, to support their efforts towards healing, and to work together towards reconciliation.
Thank you. Now I invite Mayor Cleveland to share a few words before we officially raise the flag.
Today, we gather on this meaningful occasion to commemorate the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day holds a profound significance in our history, as it calls upon us to reflect on the past, acknowledges the painful truths that have shaped our nation, and work together towards a brighter, more inclusive future. Today we make a permanent statement to reflect our larger commitment to work with Indigenous leaders, community organizations, and all residents to ensue that our town is a place where diversity is celebrated, and where every person’s rights and dignity are upheld.
Truth and Reconciliation Day is not merely a date on the calender; it represents a commitment to healing and unity. It invites us to confront the uncomfortable realities of our past, from the injustices faced by Indigenous peoples to the impacts of colonialism and systemic discrimination. It reminds us that acknowledging the truth is the first step towards reconciliation.
It’s important to state that reconciliation goes beyond our commemorative ceremonies. True reconciliation means we must engage in meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities from the very beginning of any project or policy that may impact them. We must listen actively, respect their perspectives, and work collaboratively to find solutions that benefit everyone involved. This process requires time, patience, and a willingness to adapt our plans based on the input we receive, and we are grateful to be working with Alderville to ensure we are continuing to build a meaningful relationship.
Let this Truth and Reconciliation Day be a turning point in our history – a day of reflection, learning and renewed dedication to building a just and reconciled society. I invite the community to learn how they can be a part of true truth and reconciliation by reaching out to us or visiting the beautiful community of Alderville.
Thank you and may this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day be a source of inspiration for us all.
Town of Cobourg would like to encourage members of the community to participate in the following events planned for Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30 to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
• Special Screening of ‘Bones of Crows’
Date: Friday, September 29, 2023
Time: 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Second Street, Cobourg. This is an outdoor, bring your own chair event.
The Town of Cobourg in collaboration with the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) will host a special screening of the film ‘Bones of Crows’ written and directed by Metis playwrite, Marie Clements. This film follows a Cree woman who survives the Indian residential school system to become a code talker for the Canadian Air Force during World War II.
This event promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of Indigenous history and culture.
Warning: This film portrays difficult moments, like Indigenous children being taken from their families and cultural loss. It aims to reveal a painful history, but it can be upsetting. Be mindful of your feelings when watching and reach out for help if needed.
Hope for Wellness Helpline: 1-855-242-3310. Rating: 14+
Note: Rain location is the Cobourg Community Centre. Watch for updates on @TownofCobourg social media.
• Shuttle Service to Alderville Ceremony
Date: Saturday, September 30, 2023
Cobourg Council invites community members to access a free shuttle bus service from Cobourg to the annual Truth and Reconciliation Day ceremony in Alderville First Nation, located approximately 25 minutes north of Cobourg.
Pick-ups will take place at 9:10 a.m. at 35 Albert Street (Downtown Bus Terminal), and 9:20 a.m. at the Northumberland Mall bus stop (outside Scotiabank). The shuttle will leave Alderville back to Cobourg at both 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., with drop-offs at Northumberland Mall and 35 Albert Street.
Please reserve your seat on the Eventbrite registration page.