Friday, September 30th, is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and National Orange Shirt Day.
The day gives all Canadians an opportunity to recognize, remember, and reflect on the tragic history and legacy of residential schools and the continued impacts on Indigenous peoples.
Everyone is encouraged to wear an orange shirt to honour the children who survived the Indian Residential Schools and remember those that didn’t. The “Every Child Matters” flag, which is flying at prominent County locations through September, will be lowered to half-mast on September 30th.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report on June 2, 2015, which included 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. The discovery of remains and unmarked graves across Canada have led to increased calls for all levels of government to address the recommendations in the TRC’s Calls to Action. All Canadians and all orders of government have a role to play in reconciliation.
As part of ongoing reconciliation efforts, Bruce County has embarked on an Indigenous Reconciliation Planning Initiative. This initiative aims to build Indigenous cultural awareness and intercultural capacity and competency across the County, leading to the collaborative development an Indigenous Reconciliation Plan.
In recognition of September 30th, the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre will be attending the Chippewas of Saugeen’s National Truth & Reconciliation Day event at Saugeen First Nation, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and an orange shirt-themed activity will later be displayed at the Museum.
Lori Kewaquom, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) Saugeen Advocacy for Healing Coordinator recently explained at the Southampton Rotary Peace Pole dedication, that this year’s theme is “Our Children Past, Present, & Future”.
“Everyone is invited to our event at Saugeen First Nation,” said Kewaquom. “The day will begin at G. C. Huston Public School in Southampton at 8:30 and will continue on the ‘Zgaa-biig-ni-gan’ … “We Are Connected” bridge at 11:00 a.m., that connects our two communities.”
Bruce County has also announced that the Public Library in Tobermory is “…honoured to have Priscilla Yellowhead Tobey at 1:30 PM on Friday, September 30th for a storytelling and drumming ceremony. Residents are also welcome to visit any of the 17 Bruce County library branches to add orange shirt-themed activities to the interactive displays outlining several calls to action taken from the Truth and Reconciliation report. Works by Indigenous authors will be showcased in the branches and can be borrowed with your BCPL Library card.”
Learn more about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation online at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
“On September 30th, residents and businesses are encouraged to join Bruce County Council and Staff in wearing an orange shirt to show support that Every Child Matters and to participate in a collective act of reconciliation,” said Bruce County Warden Janice Jackson. “Over the months of September and October, I encourage everyone to take part in the educational resources and activities that will be shared to deepen understanding and move forward the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
About Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is a movement to recognize the colonial legacy of residential schools and commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Observed since 2013, Orange Shirt Day recalls the experience of residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, who at six years old was stripped of her brand-new bright orange t-shirt, in favour of mandatory uniforms, on her first day at a residential school in 1973. Ms. Webstad’s story is the nucleus for what has become a national movement to recognize the experience of survivors of Indian residential schools, honour them, and show a collective commitment to ensure that every child matters. The initiative calls for every Canadian to wear an orange shirt on September 30th in the spirit of healing and reconciliation. The date of September 30th was chosen because it was the time of year when Indigenous children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.