Honouring Resiliency of Indigenous Peoples

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Office of the Chief

To mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Toronto Police Service members raised the Every Child Matters flag at police headquarters.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is observed on September 30. The day is set aside to honour the healing journey of Residential School survivors and their families.

“For all people in Canada, this is an occasion to witness the resiliency of Indigenous Peoples and to provide opportunities to engage in honest and respectful conversations that offer acknowledgment and support to our neighbours,” said Chief Myron Demkiw, who along with other TPS members wore orange as a symbol of reconciliation, hope and that every child matters.

 “By acknowledging the harm that was done to Indigenous people by Canada’s Residential Schools and by recognizing the ongoing impacts that Indigenous communities continue to experience, we can help create a safer environment to heal.”

Demkiw noted that reconciliation is the first step to learn more about Canada’s history and gain understanding.

“By educating our youth and ourselves, we will be able to embrace the meaning of Truth and Reconciliation and ensure the legacy of Residential Schools is not forgotten,” he said.

“Together as a Service, we can and will move forward on a path of reconciliation. Together, we mourn the many victims of Residential Schools and acknowledge the profound and ongoing impact on Indigenous peoples, including generational trauma and pain. Together, we look to the essential work done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, especially the Calls to Action related to justice. Together, we recognize, more than offering words alone. We must act and do so with purpose and conviction to address the systemic racism and to build stronger bonds of trust with Indigenous peoples.”



Flag being raised as people look up
The Every Child Matters flag being raised at Headquarters Photo: Brent Smyth



Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Ann Morgan said the concept of reconciliation is complex and multi-faceted.

“It is important to know how far, as a society, we have come in terms of our history,” she said. “At the same time, we acknowledge we still have a long journey ahead of us. To fully commit to ongoing and meaningful reconciliation, it is imperative we truly reflect upon the greater context of examining our treatment of Indigenous people in our country, both historically and today.”

As a collective path is forged that honours the past and accounts for failures, Morgan noted that reconciliation is a shared process.

“It is a path founded on dialogue and true mutual respect,” she said. “It is a process that requires sustained work, sincere effort, raw humility and deep dedication. In acknowledging the painful past of our country, we must recognize too that true reconciliation requires us to acknowledge that the trauma is ongoing, that this was a reality for far too many and that discrimination persists even today with an impact that can be significant and devastating.”

Last year, the TPSB Budget Office with Toronto City Council approval, included funding to hire an Indigenous Engagement Advisor.

Constable Richard Warman is responsible for establishing and fostering key partnerships with Indigenous Nations and their communities, organizations, city partners and key stakeholders and helping to develop and implement a governance and oversight approach to the Toronto Police Service’s implementation of the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

Morgan thanked Warman and the Aboriginal Community Consultative Committee for their exceptional work.

“On behalf of the Board, I want to express my sincere gratitude to each and every one of you who is part of our collaborative and continued effort to move forward as a society and as a city – from those involved in the unbelievably challenging but critical reconciliation process to those dedicated to engaging in the everyday dialogue and partnerships in our neighbourhoods, which too is an integral part of the broader concept of reconciliation,” she said.



Person speaks at a podium
Chief Myron Demkiw talks about importance of recognizing the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation



Kevin Corrigan, the Toronto Police Association (TPA) Director of Civilian Field Services, said his association has a shared responsibility to bring awareness to this issue.

“It is important for our membership and those in the community who look to us for leadership on issues facing the public and their safety so that the events from our past are not repeated in the future,” he said. “We are proud of our Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit. For 31 years, the small but mighty unit has been a liaison between the police and the city’s Indigenous communities. Without our efforts over the years, it is doubtful we would be all here today.”

Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto Executive Director Pamela Hart said September 30 is a day to honour and thank survivors and their families.

“We stand with them together to grieve,” she said. “Our children, our women, our men will stand proud on this day as we restore our identity and reclaim our space. Yet, to walk in balance and beauty on this land, good relations are essential. Reconciliation starts with the truth, being honest about truth and leaning into the discomfort this brings."

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