(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC) – The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) acknowledges the pledge taken on this first National Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30th, to always remember the truths shared by Survivors so there will never again be the intention to create and enact government policies of genocide and terror that resulted from the residential school system in Canada.
“We honour the survivors who bravely and persistently stepped forward over many years to share stories of their experiences in these schools. By remembering and sharing the past they fought to create a better future for our children. This day is an opportunity for all Canadians to embrace reconciliation and learn more about the long and recent history of Indigenous people’s experiences in the residential schools, which was created and enforced by the Canadian government for over a century. Also complicit are the European churches, mainly the Roman Catholic and Anglican denominations, who controlled the operations of most of the schools,” stated Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
The rediscovery of the remains of 215 children at the former residential school in Kamloops, BC, this past summer, sent shockwaves across the country and around the world. As work continues to uncover more children at residential school sites across the country, Canadians are beginning to grasp the ongoing legacy of the colonial policies and systems built, and maintained for decades, by the government of Canada.
“Reconciliation is a vast and daunting task, but we must now begin to right the wrongs of our painful past. The first National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a positive step toward building mutually respectful and equal relationships. I encourage everyone to wear and display orange as a symbol of what was taken away from First Nations… and eventually returned.” continued Regional Chief Teegee.
National Truth and Reconciliation Week, September 27 – October 1, 2021, is a 5-day national event that is hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) with online programming for students in grades 5 to 12, as well as for the general public. Canadians are provided with much material to watch, read, reflect on and more, to inspire understanding and movement towards reconciliation.
Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters is a parallel commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not. Indigenous peoples in Canada retell the story of Phyllis Webstad who, on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School, had her brightly coloured and prized shirt taken from her. Phyliss was emotionally crushed, and her story and the symbolism of the orange shirt demonstrates how the policy of assimilation and genocide caused great and lasting harms. By wearing orange on this day, we can display a united front against hatred and racism.
National Truth and Reconciliation Day https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/national-day-truth-reconciliation.html