Today, Sept. 30, is Orange Shirt Day on unceded Snuneymuxw First Nation traditional territory and across the country.
The occasion, according to a joint press release from the City of Nanaimo and the SFN, denounces past Canadian policy around residential schools and creates solidarity with residential school survivors.
“The imposition of residential schools onto indigenous peoples as a form of education for over 100 years was an abhorrent Canadian policy that has caused real significant injustices upon indigenous peoples, a legacy that will take centuries to correct,” notes the release.
Orange Shirt Day’s colour choice is a nod to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school.
Snuneymuxw Chief Michael Wyse said in the release that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has raised consciousness about the truth of residential schools and made recommendations on how to try to resolve the injustices.
“The history of Canadian residential schools is full of harm and injury to our people that is at the front of our minds. Canada forcibly removed our children from their homes, their families, and put them in residential schools to try and extinguish our Snuneymuxw culture and way of life…” he said. “Our people are strong survivors of residential schools.”
City of Nanaimo council and staff will be participating in activities today to bring awareness to honour and remember residential school survivors and their families.
“Without first having a deep understanding of the truth of past harms towards indigenous peoples, we cannot achieve true reconciliation and harmony between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog in the release. “We honour the strength and resilience of Snuneymuxw and many other indigenous communities who have survived despite the impacts of government policies intended to erase their cultures.”
Vancouver Island University is holding an Orange Shirt Day event today at Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place.
At Nanaimo Christian School, teachers and students are wearing orange shirts designed by Coast Salish artist William Good, whose grandchildren attend the school.
— Karl Yu (@KarlYuBulletin) September 30, 2019