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Circle gathering on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Young and old gathered in a circle around a sacred fire on Saturday in Espanola, west of Greater Sudbury.

The crowd heard from survivors of residential schools who shared words of support and encouragement toward reconciliation.

“The circle is very significant image for First Nations people but also for every person. The circle is a representation of life itself,” said Josh Eshkawkogan, a knowledge healer with the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre.

“The fire within as in the sacred fire we lit this morning to ignite everyone’s fire and to be able to recognize our children’s fire.”

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation gathering was hosted by the health centre and the Town of Espanola.

“We partnered with them because we feel very strongly that we need to get the information out that we have to be very open to all the truths that have happened,” said Espanola Mayor Doug Gervais.

Officials with Noojmowin Teg Health Centre told CTV News that unity is as important as education for true reconciliation.

“I am hoping that individuals take away education but also unity and love and that we are all one,” said Debbie Francis, the centre’s acting executive director.

People at the gathering also walked around the oval track – another meaningful circle – at the Espanola Recreation Complex.

“There is no hierarchy we are all equals and we are accepting of everyone in the circle,” said the centre’s health and wellness manager Christianna Jones.

“We walk in memory of those children who didn’t make it home.”

The event’s organizers said today’s gathering was about creating a circle of sharing, learning and understanding.

Truth and Reconciliation events were held across the northeast; including Garden Village, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins.

If you are a former residential school student in distress or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous Peoples are available here. Top Stories

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