September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada. The day honours the children who never returned home, the Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
At the John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area in Essex, Ontario, a new exhibit entitled 21 Truths About Residential Schools will be available to view. This exhibit has been guest curated by Ms. Darlene Marshall, Indigenous Education Lead for the Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board and a Member of the Caldwell First Nation. Ms. Marshall is also a member of the John R. Park Homestead Advisory Board.
“We must learn the true history of colonization on Turtle Island before we can begin down the road to reconciliation,” says Ms. Marshall.
As well, the #hopeandhealingcanada art installation created by Métis artist Tracey-Mae Chambers remains on exhibit at the Homestead. These site-specific art installations illustrate connections between Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis peoples with Canadians, while also addressing the decolonization of public spaces. The art is intended to stimulate thoughtful reflection and conversation around Truth and Reconciliation.
The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area is an 1842 living history museum that interprets how life was lived during this pioneer period. “Over the last number of years and with significant guidance from valued partners like Darlene, we’ve worked hard to tell a more full history of the site and the region, and to better recognize the Original People who inhabited this site from time immemorial,” explained Kris Ives, Curator/Education Coordinator. “Our recently updated Strategic Plan identifies the importance of deconstructing colonialism in the museum space by building on Indigenous Voices and Representation, creating opportunities for access, input, and content curation by Indigenous voices and including Indigenous art, culture, stories, traditions, and knowledge into the interpretive narrative.”
The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area is located at 915 County Rd. 50 on the shore of Lake Erie. The exhibit can be viewed Thursday through Sunday from 11am – 6pm.
The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area is located on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, comprised of the Ojibway, the Odawa, and the Potawatomie Peoples. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial