September 21, 2023
Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
We recognize the ongoing impact of residential schools and the generational trauma still experienced because of this tragic and painful history. We honour the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.
Orange Shirt Day
September 30 also marks Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not. Annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.
The unofficial day has been observed since 2013 and is called Orange Shirt Day in memory of a piece of clothing then-six-year-old Phyllis Webstad had taken from her on her first day at a residential school in 1973. The former Mission, B.C. residential school student had gone to school wearing a brand new bright orange T-shirt from her grandmother. When Webstad got to the residential school, educators forced her to remove the clothing in favour of mandatory uniforms and conformity.
The AFN Chiefs-in-Council passed a resolution declaring Orange Shirt Day “a first step in reconciliation”, and pledged to bring the message to the government of Canada inviting them to listen with open ears to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t survive the residential school system.
Indigenous History in Kawartha Lakes
At least 12,000 years ago First Peoples migrated into the area we know today as the Kawarthas, soon after the retreat of the great ice sheet. As the ice sheets began to melt and water continued to diminish, about 10,000 years ago, the Kawarthas began to look more like it does today.
Forests as a result were abundant with many types of deciduous and coniferous species. These changes in turn increased the animal and fish populations which encouraged Indigenous people to stay longer in one spot and build small communities.
The Kawartha landscape held great spiritual and cultural meaning for the Indigenous populations (as it still does today). The pressures of increased European and post American Revolution migrations resulted in the Indigenous populations entering into land treaty negotiations. Treaty Number 20, 1818, was signed between the Crown and the ‘Principal Men of the Chippewa (Ojibwa) Nation of Indians’. The first legal settlers arrived in the Kawarthas that autumn.
Land acknowledgements or territorial acknowledgements are a formal statement that a public event is taking place on land originally inhabited by Indigenous people.
We recently rewrote our Land Acknowledgement and reconfirmed our commitment to do the internal work both as an organization and EDI committee around ensuring our commitments to action support Indigenous communities in a meaningful way. We want people to back up what we’re saying, truly believe in it, and be ready to answer questions.
Have a comment or suggestion for the EDI committee? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Resources and Books
Donations to Support Orange Shirt Day and Reconciliation
In honour of the Residential School Survivors and on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, Reconciliation Education is offering a 2.5 to 3 hours. 10 interactive modules certification training. 10% of all proceeds are donated to First Nations University of Canada scholarships.
Beginning September 20, 2023 University of Alberta are offering a free Indigenous Canada Awareness Course.