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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021 marked the first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

This day honours Survivors of Canada's residential school system, their families, and communities, and those who did not make it home.  It helps ensure public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools in our country and is an important step in the process toward reconciliation.

If you missed out on participating in local or online activities on September 30, it's never too late to start - or build on - your knowledge and awareness and take meaningful action. The path to reconciliation is a continuous journey. 

Here are some resources you may find helpful.

A Personal Story - Michelle Shortridge, Community of Aqam

One of the ways that we can meaningfully participate in the process of reconciliation is by LISTENING.  We need to listen to the stories of Elders, Survivors, and members of our Indigenous communities.  When we listen with intention, we not only open our minds to learning and awareness, we open our hearts and THIS is where reconciliation begins.

This is Michelle's story (shared with permission):

Truth:

St. Eugene is the residential school my dad attended. This would likely be the school my children would have been sent, if they were still operating. Nothing good happened within these walls and alot was taken from my family including cultural knowledge and our ability to speak our language. We continue to struggle with the affects of intergenerational trauma within our family and community.

&

Reconciliation:

Actions have the immense power to create change, whether that be positive or negative depending on the intention of the action. Knowing is simply not enough. True reconciliation comes with knowing, acknowledging and then doing. As Canadian's we all have a responsibility to acknowledge, learn and do, then do better. Nothing can change what happened, but we can make positive contributions to pave the path forward in love and kindness.

I hope this and every Septemebr 30th that you take some time to remember the experiences that our indigenous children had within these walls and the struggles their children and grandchildren still have today because of it. If you don't know, there are so many resources available out there for free.

As a daughter of a residential school survivor, my life will always be dedicated to making positive changes for my people and not continuing the cycles of abuse and trauma that were shown to us within those walls.

To my father, I love you and your example of kindness, charity and love when you very much could have let this horrible experience lead you on a different path.

For those that don't know me, I thought I might add that my 2 beautiful children now attend elementery school at Aqamnik School right across the street from this former residential school. How powerful to see our children learning, growing and thriving across the street from this place. Their voices are heard laughing, speaking the language, singing and drumming. It often moves me to just know the resilience of my people, the sacrifices and forgiveness that has been shown.

Dr. Christopher Horsethief's Ted Talk: Colonization and Reconciliation

This is the Ktunaxa Nation Council's version of the "From Awkward Kid to Awkward Father: Parenting post-colonization" TED Talk. In this presentation Christopher discusses a few aspects of parenting across cultural differences with the help of his mother, grandmother and daughter. 

Link to Video: https://vimeo.com/249222853/3c2e6533b1

SOURCE: Horsethief, C. P. (2107). From awkward kid to awkward father: Parenting post-colonization. TEDx Nelson; Nelson, BC. April 2017.

The Calls to Action

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was created through a legal settlement between Residential Schools Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit representatives and the parties responsible for creation and operation of the schools: the federal government and the church bodies.

The TRC’s mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. The TRC documented the truth of Survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. This included First Nations, Inuit and Métis former residential school students, their families, communities, the churches, former school employees, government officials and other Canadians.

The TRC concluded its mandate in 2015 and transferred its records to the safekeeping of National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).

In order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth 
and Reconciliation Commission published it's Calls to Action, which included 94 separate recommendations.

Links:

The Story of Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself.  It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc  Nations along with the Cariboo Regional District, the Mayors and municipalities, School Districts and civic organizations in the Cariboo Region. 

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project.  As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl.  

  • CLICK HERE to read Phyllis' story in her own words.

To learn more about the project and reunion: https://www.orangeshirtday.org/about-us.html

From the Orange Shirt Day website: The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

Last edited: Fri, October 01, 2021 - 9:57:47