Honoring Indigenous Resilience
The federal government passed legislation to mark September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and designated it as Orange Shirt Day. Also, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has identified this week (Sept 27 – Oct 1) as Truth and Reconciliation Week.
The designation of this day is in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 Calls to Action and is meant to honor Indigenous survivors, their families, and communities. It also ensures the ongoing commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools, remaining a vital part of the reconciliation process.
Raising awareness about what happened in residential schools isn’t the sole goal of the TRC, said Murray Sinclair, more importantly, the Commission endeavors “to make it part of our national memory,” so that we never forget and repeat the same mistakes. “That’s why legislating it, I think, was important, because it forces you to acknowledge that this day, something happened,” he said.
AETTNL is honored to recognize this special day, not only to acknowledge the legacy of residential schools but also to celebrate our Indigenous communities and their heritage. Let’s use this opportunity to consider what each one of us can do to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and commit to learning and understanding the truth of our shared history.
Why Orange Shirt?
Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation is a spokesperson for the Orange Shirt Day Reunion and a residential school survivor, whose story inspired the movement. When Phyllis was six, her grandmother gave her an orange shirt for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission in British Columbia. When Phyllis got to school, they took away her new shirt, never to be returned. To Phyllis, the color orange has always reminded her of her experiences at the residential school and, as she has said, “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.” Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013.
- Participate in weeklong events hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a series of online events open to the public. The weeklong schedule of events includes historical workshops, videos, artists, and more.
- Watch Aboriginal Peoples Television Network programming: To welcome this day of remembrance, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is offering a full day of programming to raise awareness about the significance and meaning of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
- Read articles and books by Indigenous authors and learn about the experiences of survivors and their families.
- Considering the roles you hold at work and home, talk about and share what the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means to you and your commitment toward reconciliation.
- Acknowledge the Indigenous land where you work, study, or play before online and in-person meetings.
- Wear your Orange Shirt – not just on September 30 but also during the year.
Contact the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society (IRSSS). IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.