Today marks National Truth and Reconciliation Day, and Orange Shirt Day.

A day to reflect on the impacts of residential schools, their legacy, and our collective past. A day heavy with history, hard truths, and many wrongs. 

Like many Canadians of my generation, I learned about Indigenous history in school and I read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action during my studies at Queen’s. But there’s a difference between reading and practice. When I joined Therme Canada earlier this year, I had no idea how much more I would learn and grow through the work we do with our partners at the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). 

I remember meeting the team at MCFN to discuss our efforts as part of the redevelopment of Ontario Place. I will admit that I was concerned about saying the wrong thing and asking the wrong questions, but at the same time, encouraged by the opportunity to build meaningful relationships, and to learn about the history of the community that grew from this land, and thrived before Canada even existed. 

As we had the chance to meet and spend time together in person, I came to know the MCFN team we’ll work with in the years ahead. With patience and kindness, they helped me to better understand the intertwined history of the Mississaugas of the Credit and Lake Ontario, and the importance of having the public space at Therme reflect the history and culture of the Mississaugas. My concern about putting a foot wrong with an honest question fell away, as we built the type of trust that leads to better understanding. 

It also helped me realize how our work together can provide a unique opportunity for reflection on the waterfront, ensuring that the history and cultures of Indigenous peoples that first lived on the land and water are reflected, shared, and celebrated.   

Since our first meeting together, I’ve had the chance to spend time in the community, learn through a dedicated culture and history education session, and work more closely and more often with the MCFN team. 

Slowly, almost without realizing it, I also spent these past months learning and unlearning more about our shared history, and the agreements and Treaties that formed our relationships with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Our hires in Canada are all provided the opportunity to participate in a culture and history education session with the MCFN, and we’ve had interest from our colleagues around the world in joining those sessions as well. 

There is a lot to unpack, and we need to take action on truth and reconciliation initiatives now. My own recent experience has taught me that trusting relationships, based on mutual respect and goodwill, can help us to accomplish a lot together. Today presents an opportunity for reflection, but the last few months have taught me that through the relationships we’re building, and through open dialogue, each day’s work presents a chance to demonstrate and reinforce our commitment to reconciliation. 

Mark Lawson
Vice President, Communications & External Relations of Thereme Group Canada