Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. Over recent years, but especially this past year, Canadians have been coming to terms with what happened in residential schools, a truth survivors and their families have always known. Today is a day to reflect on our past and re-commit to healing Indigenous communities. For there to be true reconciliation we must listen; we must seek out stories from lived experience and knowledge keepers; and we must take action.
September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, named in recognition of a movement started by residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad, a member of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. On her first day at a residential school in Williams Lake, B.C., her new orange shirt was stripped from her and never seen again. The message behind the orange shirt is that every child matters.
As part of the reconciliation process, all Canadians are compelled to commemorate the true history and legacy of residential schools across Canada- so that Phyllis’ story and the story of thousands of other children, too many of whom never came home, are never forgotten.