Like many others across North Grenville, Get Cronk'd Fitness Studio chose to mark Canada Day in a different way this year. Rebecca Cronk led a 9 am Canada Day class in support of the Legacy of Hope Foundation

by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Though Canada day festivities were enjoyed by many residents across North Grenville, some residents chose to celebrate differently, or not celebrate at all, this year.

The identification of the remains of 215 children in Kamloops BC, 751 children on the Cowessess First Nation SK, and 182 children in Cranbrook BC on the grounds of former state-funded Residential Schools has prompted a time of reckoning.

Many North Grenville residents chose to wear orange this Canada Day. Doing so was encouraged by the Ontario Native Women’s Association as a way to “recognize and honour the thousands of Indigenous children forcibly taken to residential school, and as a tribute to the resiliency of residential school survivors in Canada.

” The orange shirt also represents a “call to all levels of government to implement all Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action”. Eleven year old Amelia, who was watching the Paddlers’ Poker Run, told me she and her family donned orange shirts to “show that we honour First Nations and respect them.”

Another resident explained that she wore an orange shirt because it is time to “reflect on what’s been found rather than pretend like nothing happened.”

Get Cronk’d Fitness Studio in downtown Kemptville made the decision to donate to the Legacy of Hope Foundation, an Ottawa based charity working to promote healing and educate on the history of Residential Schools, rather than purchase their usual Canada Day decorations. They also held a Canada Day class, from which proceeds were donated to Legacy of Hope.

Diane Cronk explained that, “We’re still proud to be Canadian. But we would be remiss if we waved flags and celebrated. I think this is a time for reflection. Hope. Showing the community that we care. This is a really small way of doing that, but I think if everyone did a little bit, it amounts to a lot…It would show that we understand, we’re listening.” She went on to say, “We can’t rewrite history, or undo the wrongs. But we can certainly help the community recognize and reflect upon all those terrible, unforgivable things that happened.”

Diane, with some surprise, also noted that following her statement about this initiative, the response on social media has been nothing but positive.

“Handprints of Homage”, a group providing handprint kits on Canada Day, sprung up as a way to “pay tribute to a brave generation of children; children who were torn from their families by our own Canadian government and individuals from religious organizations at the time, for the simple fact that they were aboriginal.”

The initiative provided children and families with non-toxic orange paint for kids to mark their driveways or the parking lot at Riverside Park with handprints. They are also offering ideas and suggestions for how parents can talk to their children about Residential Schools and Canada’s colonial legacy.

Acknowledging that North Grenville is built on Algonquin soil, Handprints of Homage explain their initiative as, “a tangible way for our kids to pay their respect and to embed the message that the young lives lost have not been forgotten.”

Flags at the Municipal Centre in Kemptville have been at half-mast in remembrance of the Indigenous children who continue to be found in unmarked graves at former Residential School sites across the country.

Mayor Nancy Peckford issued a statement: “Canada Day should be one of reflection and remembrance. It’s an opportunity for all of us to thoughtfully examine what it means to be Canadian, and understand our country’s extensive Indigenous roots and the racism that still exists today.” She went on, “Learning more about Indigenous leaders and the many cultures that now comprise this country is everyone’s responsibility.”

For more information, visit the Ontario Native Women’s Association website at or, like Get Cronk’d, consider donating to the Legacy of Hope Foundation at

If you or a member of your family is a survivor of a residential school, you can call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 for support.




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