The federal government has declared September 30th as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. It is also known as Orange Shirt Day, a day to recognize and raise awareness about the residential school system in Canada.
So why an orange shirt? It refers to the orange shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given by her grandmother to wear on her first day of school. When Phyllis arrived at the school proudly wearing her orange shirt, they took away all her belongings – including the orange shirt that was so dear to her. Phyllis shares her story and explains that the colour orange has become a symbol for her experience at residential schools.
“The colour orange has always reminded me of that, and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt I was worth nothing.”
You can read more about Phyllis’ story here.
You can also listen to Phyllis share her story and talk about the significance of Orange Shirt Day in this video.
On September 30th people are encouraged to wear an orange shirt to show solidarity, to honour, and to remember residential school survivors and those who did not survive. It is a day to reflect and continue to take action towards reconciliation.
Reconciliation Resources and Education
BCNPHA is supporting the non-profit housing sector’s path to reconciliation with Indigenous-focused education throughout the year, and particularly this month in the lead up to the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. We believe that reconciliation is something we should work towards every day, not only on September 30. We can do so in our personal, social and professional lives by educating ourselves on the past and present systemic policies, practices and attitudes that have led to injustice and violence towards Indigenous people.
Listen to the former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Hon. Murray Sinclair, as he shares some words on reconciliation:
We hope BCNPHA’s learning opportunities on cultural safety contribute to your own learning journey. We have partnered with the Indigenous Perspectives Society to deliver three in-depth workshops:
- Understanding History – September 9, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
- Understanding Myths and Stereotypes – September 29, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
- Building Local Relationships – October 13, 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Charla Huber, from M’akola Housing Society, has also generously offered to deliver a session that explores her experiences and successes in sharing stories of diverse communities, with a focus on Indigenous communities. Be the Change – Inclusive and Equitable Storytelling is on September 24 at 11:00 – 12:30 pm.
You can learn from Elders and Indigenous Housing Providers who shared their knowledge at the National Indigenous People’s Month event co-presented by AHMA, M’akola Housing Society and BCNPHA.
Events Honouring National Truth and Reconciliation Day
There are also events being planned in communities and nationally:
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – Reconciliation Week
- UBC – Residential School History and Dialogue Centre
- MOSAIC Vancouver is hosting events throughout the week
Are there events happening in your community? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. and we’ll add them to this list.
Do you have ideas about additional ways we can contribute to the decolonizing of the housing system? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at email@example.com.