At VHA Home HealthCare (VHA), we are proud to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This morning, we invited the VHA community to join us in this important recognition through a smudging ceremony at our head office in Toronto.
The ceremony was led by Lisa Jocko, who joined VHA 12 years ago as a Personal Support Worker and has more recently moved into the role of Chief Union Steward. Lisa was born and raised in Toronto and is Anishnawbekwe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation, of the Odawa Tribe.
“I’m pleased that VHA is honouring the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. This is an important part of our history and legacy. Recognizing the importance of the impact that the residential school system had on First Nations, Inuit & Métis survivors to help those heal & to help educate those that were not aware of this dark history, so as not to allow history to repeat itself. Hopefully, this will remove systemic racism for those who are still affected today & tomorrow,” said Lisa.
During the ceremony on September 30th, Lisa blessed the grounds of our head office and was joined by Adam Benn, VHA’s Manager of Diversity Equity & Inclusion to launch an official land acknowledgement, an influential first step in reconciling with Canada’s past and shaping our future as an organization.
“Indigenous communities across Canada have been marking ‘Orange Shirt Day’ on September 30 since 2013. The day offers an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon the treatment of First Nations people and the message that ‘Every Child Matters’,” said Adam.
Over 160 staff members joined the commemoration virtually while a small group of individuals working in the office gathered with Lisa for the physically distanced ceremony.
“Today marks an important moment for us all as individuals and as a collective sector and organization to reflect on the history of the country we provide service and live in,” said Kathryn Nichol, VHA’s President and CEO in her opening remarks. “Today and every day, we look ahead and plan for meaningful and positive change as we stand by First Nations, Inuit and Métis in the VHA community and across what is now known as Canada,” she added.
Leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation VHA also encouraged its team to wear an orange shirt on September 30th to honour the healing journey of residential school survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.