National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 30, 2021: Today Canada celebrates its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The federal government declared September 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a direct response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) 94 calls to action The day will be observed as a statutory holiday for federal employees, including employees of the Last Post Fund. Many schools, businesses and other levels of government across the country are also choosing to observe the day by participating in readings, marches or observing a moment of silence at 2:15PM, a reference to the number of unmarked graves found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. earlier this year.
The day is also known as “Orange Shirt Day”, in acknowledgement of the experience of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad whose new orange shirt was taken from her on her first day at residential school. For many residential school survivors, this event summarized their feelings of betrayal and abandon by the residential school system.
I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!
When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.
The Last Post Fund encourages our employees, members and volunteers to participate in whatever way you are comfortable doing so in this day for Truth and Reconciliation. In the words of Ojibwe Grandmother and residential school survivor Geraldine Shingoose, “I ask Canada to see us, to hear us and to believe us,”, echoing the sentiments of Murray Sinclair, who served as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.