On Friday, Remembering the Children Day which is June 11 every year, was proclaimed by (left to right) Mayor Tara Veer with Sunnybrook United Church members Merla Gibson, Faye Richards, Bonnie Denhaan and Sam Denhaan in attendance.

Red Deer planning special council meeting on National Aboriginal Day

Mayor declares Remembering The Children Day June 11

In declaring June 11 Remembering the Children Day, Mayor Tara Veer said also on Friday that a special upcoming city council meeting will be held on National Aboriginal Day.

Remembering the Children Day was first declared by the city in 2014, and honours indigenous children of the former Red Deer Industrial School and their descendents.

June 11 is the anniversary of the official apology from the Government of Canada to the children and descendents affected by residential schools.

The City of Red Deer has been actively working with the Urban Aboriginals Voices Society Red Deer to elevate the city’s current protocol with the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, Veer said.

On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, the city will be adopting that protocol at the special council meeting. Details are still being finalized, she said, adding that sometime after that meeting, a pipe ceremony will be held.

The protocol agreement will establish a governance to governance perspective as to how the City of Red Deer will interface with the urban aboriginal community, Veer said.

During the declaration, Veer noted that the Remembering the Children Society was one of the first local organizations that began local initiatives to fulfill recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

In Red Deer, an Indian residential school operated from 1893 to 1919. At least 20 of the children who attended it died there and are buried in the Red Deer Industrial School cemetery.

On June 11, 2014, an information sign was unveiled at Fort Normandeau about the school and going forward, June 11 was declared Remembering the Children Day.

Reconciliation efforts have been led by Sunnybrook United Church and the Remembering the Children Society for more than 10 years. Remembering the Children was a project started by Lyle Keewatin Richards, a well known Cree man in Red Deer.

The society was formed to learn as much as possible about the local residential school and contact relatives of former students. A commemorative traditional feast to free the spirits of the children who died was held in 2010. A feast was held at Sunnybrook United Church, co-ordinated by Don and Joan Hepburn, in 2012, and another at Fort Normandeau in 2013.

In 2011, a ceremony was held to transfer four weathered wooden grave markers from the school to the Red Deer Museum.

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