I don’t need the day off to reflect on what my Mom, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters, Cousins lived through. I live with that every day. The day is for our Non-Indigenous to listen and learn, to actually believe the living Survivors.

Llewellyn Jobs, Inuvialuit (Survivor of the “60s Scoop”)

Sept. 30 is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada and #OrangeShirtDay. In a bizarre twist of irony, it is a statutory holiday only for government employees – perhaps so they can better reflect in the role their employer played in the creation and administration of the Residential “School” system. Visit the National Centre For Truth & Reconciliation.

This is not “ancient history”, this is just a part of the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people. These “schools” were just a building block to try and remove the civilization, culture and people of hundreds of Sovereign Nations…we are #StillHere.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience. Support is available at 1-866-925-4419.

“Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

Richard Pratt, founder of the American boarding schools for Indian children

“Kill the Indian in the child”

Egerton Ryerson, creator of the Canadian system

There have been some “official apologies” and many words spoken, but what remains unsaid and uncorrected, is the public acknowledgement that the Government (both Canada & US) created this system specifically to “rid themselves of the Indian problem”. Canadian Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald commissioned journalist and politician Nicholas Flood Davin to study the US example, upon which he recommended a similar system “aggressive civilization”, which led to public funding for the residential school system in Canada. You should read more about this at the Indigenous Foundations Department at UBC.

In 1907, Dr. P.H. Bryce, Medical Inspector to the Department of the Interior for Indian Affairs, submitted a report to DIA Superintendent Duncan Campbell Scott, in which the statistics showed that between 25% and 50% of the children enrolled in residential schools were dead after one year. The following comment from Scott in 1910 demonstrates the lack of concern the Department had for these alarming statistics:

“It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem.”

Orange Shirt Day was created based on the experience of Residential School Survivor, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad who was taken from her home on the Dog Creek Reserve in 1973. Both her Mother and Grandmother had suffered through 10 years of the Residential School system before her. Read her story here. Children of all ages were taken (most often forcefully by Indian Agents & RCMP) far away from their families and homelands.

Some of my Lakota relations were taken more than 2550 km (1580 mi) from their homes, families & culture at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, to Carlisle Pennsylvania.

Remember those who were victimized by the “Residential School” system. Many died and were hidden in the ground, some survived, and were buried in their trauma. We must all acknowledge the damage done, hold those responsible accountable, and DO BETTER, so that this sort of horror is never visited upon anyone ever again – least of all children.

Wear an orange shirt, attend a commemorative event (check with local Native Friendship Centres, or other Indigenous groups in your area), or simply take the time to honour the memories of these children and their families – think about what you might do to make things better…imagine if it was your children, your family.

Niagara Regional Native Centre

Fort Erie Native Centre

We have some memorial shirts in sizes SM to 5XL, available anytime. They are print-on-demand and ship directly to you. Remember, for many Indigenous people, this is an ongoing memory – through generations.

We recommend everyone watch these films and learn from them:

A new documentary will be shown & streamed on CITY TV at 7 pm EST, Thursday Sept. 30, “Runs Through Their Blood: A Life Impacted is a story about the intergenerational effects of the residential school system. Inspired by the first 215 children that were found in Kelowna, BC, the film documents how Indigenous people are still impacted by what was left behind after their years in residential schools.

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