September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. This federal statutory day is observed in Canada and directly responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls To Action #80:
"We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process."
*Both the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day take place on September 30.
Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. Orange Shirt Day references a real orange shirt taken from a residential school survivor:
Now an adult, Phyllis Webstad still remembers the new orange shirt that her grandmother bought for her when she was six years old. She wore it proudly on her first day at a church-run residential school in Williams Lake, B.C. But then school authorities stripped her of her clothes, cut her hair and took her shirt away. She never got it back.
“The colour orange has always reminded me of how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared,” she writes. “I went to a treatment centre for healing when I was 27 and have been on this healing journey since then. I finally get it, that the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years”
Looking for ways you can get involved? Below is a list of opportunities for everyone to learn more and support this very important day:
1. National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation
When: Sept 26th - 30th
National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation has launched a program open to all schools across Canada. This year, our theme is “Remembering the Children”. Join us as we memorialize the children lost to the residential school system and honour Survivors and their families. Learning and commemorating the truth of our history from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge keepers is an important part of the path to Reconciliation.
This year includes an expanded program with age-appropriate material for students in grades 1 through 12. Days 1 to 3 feature pre-recorded videos and a live Q & A session. On September 30, students will be able to view a live televised broadcast for Orange Shirt Day from their homes.
All sessions will be held virtually on Hubilo. Registration is required to stream live and pre-recorded sessions and to participate in the Q & A segment. Day 4 features an in-person gathering which will stream live for all those who are unable to attend.
2. University of Calgary Afternoon Panel Discussion
Date: Sept. 30 Time: 12 – 1:30 p.m. MST Location: Husky Oil Great Hall, inside the Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary
Register: In person event
Join the University of Calgary’s Office of Indigenous Engagement in partnership with Calgary Public Library for a panel discussion with Cora Voyageur, Lee Crowchild, and Kathleen Mahoney, revisiting the final report on Truth and Reconciliation in light of the unmarked graves, the papal visit, and the path forward. This panel will be moderated by Dr. Michael Hart, U of C’s Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement), with an opening prayer by Elder Reg Crowshoe and remarks from Sarah Meilleur, Calgary Public Library’s CEO.
If you are unable to make it to the event in-person, please register here to watch event live online.
3. Calgary Public Library Evening Film Screening - Night Raiders
Date: Sept. 30
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. MST
Location: Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Calgary Central Library
Presented by Calgary Public Library in partnership with UCalgary’s Office of Indigenous Engagement, join us for a free viewing of Night Raiders with special remarks from Sarah Meilleur, Calgary Public Library’s CEO and Dr. Michael Hart, UCalgary’s Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement).
Night Raiders is set in a post-war future that follows the journey of a mother trying to rescue her daughter from a state-run institution. From a dystopian sci-fi perspective, this thrilling and compelling story digs deep into Canada's painful past about the forced assimilation of indigenous peoples due to colonial practices.
If you are unable to make it to the event in-person, please register here
4. Fort Calgary
When: Friday, Sept. 30, 2:00 - 2:45 pm
Where: Fort Calgary
Recommended for: ages 12+
This National Truth and Reconciliation Day (Orange Shirt Day), join us on a free walking tour where we will confront the colonial history of Fort Calgary, discuss our ongoing work to decolonize the stories we tell, and share insights about what we have learned about reconciliation so far. This settler-led tour offers an interactive and reflective opportunity for other settlers/non-Indigenous peoples to contemplate their own personal journeys in reconciliation. Fort Calgary is proud to present the Orange Shirt Day Walking Tour in partnership with Colouring it Forward.
Náátsi - Deu : The Importance of Language to Young People with Storytelling through Rock Painting
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2022
Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location: Join us virtually! Register below to receive the online event link.
"Áísínai'pi" means to write on stone. Rock painting provides exceptional testimony to the living cultural traditions of the Blackfoot People. You and your family are invited to learn through traditional rock painting as you hear stories, humour and traditional teachings from an Elder and community leaders. A local children’s author will share a reading from their book and discuss how Indigenous languages strengthen cultural and traditional practices. Rock painting supplies will be made available or create your own and join us!
To participate in this hands-on learning, please take time to gather the following:
• Go for a walk and find a rock that you wish to paint. River rocks work very well.
• Gather acrylic paints in the colours that you wish, paint brushes and a cup for water to cleanse your brush as you paint. Dollar stores and crafting places have many choices.
• Put down newspaper or scrap paper on your table for any spillage.
• Use a plastic tray, plate or pie tin to put your paints on.
Be ready to learn, listen, and to create your own rock painting!
6. City of Calgary
Join us to commemorate Indian residential school victims, honour survivors and their families, and commit to acting on reconciliation. Remembering the Children.
September 30, 10 a.m. at Fort Calgary, 750 9 Ave. S.E.
Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear orange in remembrance.
The event will also be livestreamed at calgary.ca/live
*The City of Calgary White Goose Flying Report is named after Jack White Goose Flying a 17-year-old who died at a Calgary residential school
*If you would like to celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we suggest taking this free 2-hour course offered by the United Nations Human Rights Office. You can find the course here
Lastly, what can you do day to day? Click on 150 Acts of Reconciliation for Canada’s 150 (originally published on ActiveHistory.ca)