In recognition of Orange Shirt Day, Scotiabank unveiled a section of its Yellowknife branch Wednesday dedicated to honouring the legacy of residential schools.
In partnership with the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF), the new “legacy space” features two works of art from Tlicho artist Angus Beaulieu, musician Gord Downie’s call to “do something” and seating space where branch manager Baldeep Bajwa said members of the public can come in and engage in discussion to push reconciliation forward.
The Yellowknife branch is the third Downie-Wenjack Legacy Space. The other two locations are in Toronto.
Yellowknives Dene First Nation Dettah Chief Edward Sangris and Mayor Rebecca Alty helped cut the ribbon on Sept 30, which has been marked as Orange Shirt Day in Canada since 2013.
“It’s a place where people can gather and reminisce and relax. It’s an atmosphere where people can exchange stories,” Sangris said on why the space is an asset to the community. “It’s something that is really needed in the community, but that doesn’t happen too often.”
Likewise, Alty commended the bank for its initiative.
“It’s a public space for people who are going about their daily business and taking that moment to pause and reflect on our history here,” she said. “Reconciliation is more than just government to government. It’s all residents being involved.”
The DWF is a registered charity that began with Gord Downie’s 2016 album The Secret Path. The organization aims to continue the conversation that began with Chanie Wenjack’s residential school story, an Anishinaabe boy who died trying to escape residential schools.
Bajwa said the space will “honour the resilience of residential school survivors and of those who did not return home.”