In continuing with our commitment to building respectful, reciprocal relationships with the Indigenous People of Turtle Island, the Latornell Conservation Symposium Committee would like to show our support for Orange Shirt Day
in the spirit of healing and reconciliation.
Orange Shirt Day is a day for spreading awareness about Canada's residential school system and to honour residential school survivors and their families. It began in Williams Lake in 2013 and has since spread to schools and communities across Canada.
Residential schools were government sponsored religious schools all over Canada where Metis, Inuit and First Nations children were sent between the 1860s and 1990s. Their intent was to ‘civilize’ and assimilate Aboriginal people. As Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee
points out, it was a ‘shameful’ part of our Canadian history. The schools failed to provide children with the education they needed and the care deserved.
Instead, they broke families apart and left a trail of social, mental and physical consequences that continued to follow many Indigenous people for generations and still does to this day. They contributed significantly to the loss of Indigenous languages, culture and the traditional customs that define who they are.
In addition to recognizing Orange Shirt Day every September 30th, there are a number of other things that we can do. A list of the actions recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be found online
. As a starting point, we all need to LEARN about the truth.
The “orange shirt” in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given to her by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. When Phyllis got to school, they took away her clothes, including her new shirt. It was never returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at 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.”
The message that Phyllis wants to pass along on Orange Shirt Day — and every day — is that every child matters. Orange Shirt Day was started by Phyllis to educate people about residential schools and fight racism and bullying.
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