Today, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald acknowledges the importance of Orange Shirt Day. Chief Archibald urges all Canadians to spend September 30 reflecting on how to contribute to the healing path forward from the harms of the institutions of assimilation and genocide. Orange Shirt Day, recently designated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by the federal government, honours the First Nations and Indigenous children forced into these institutions that resulted in thousands of children’s deaths.
“Today, and every day, I stand in support of Survivors and intergenerational trauma Survivors,” said National Chief Archibald. “I honour September 30 as a day of remembrance and grief, and I lift up Phyllis Webstad. She was a young First Nations girl, who had her shiny, new orange shirt taken from her upon arriving at an institution known as the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School. She survived the institution, told her story and in 2013, the orange shirt campaign to commemorate all of the Survivors was launched in Williams Lake.”
“Today and every day, let’s hold a vision of happy healthy children surrounded by the love and care of their families in safe, vibrant communities,” added Chief Archibald. “ Every child matters and our little ones have an inherent right to safety, love and happiness. I also welcome the designation of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to remind all Canadians of the harms done to our little ones.”
In August of this year, the federal government declared September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This act fulfills Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #80: “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
A national crisis line for Residential Institution Survivors is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residential School Survivor Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.
Header image credit: Government of Canada.