The Government of Canada has passed legislation to recognize September 30th as a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Previously known as Orange Shirt Day, September 30th provides an opportunity for us to recognize and reflect on the trauma, harms, and legacy of the Residential School system here on Turtle Island. The ongoing work in finding unmarked graves of children at Residential Schools has touched our country and highlighted the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and others who initially reported on this tragedy.
Our staff will be taking that day off and we are inviting them to reflect on their personal journeys toward reconciliation.
As an agency, we have dedicated time in recent years ensuring we are educated about the impacts of Residential Schools, particularly as it relates to survivor’s experiences of sexualized violence and the intergenerational impact on Indigenous peoples in Canada. We support and believe all survivors, whether they have experienced a recent sexual assault or sexualized violence at any point in their past. Therefore, it was incumbent on us to ensure we are supporting Residential School Survivors with continued listening and deep understanding. We have been fortunate in the gifts we’ve received from survivors of Residential Schools who were bravely willing to share their experiences with us and have guided us in this work.
We are committed to taking the next step. We have created a joint board and staff committee to work together on SSAIC’s agency journey toward reconciliation in a broader capacity. Judy Pelly, an Indigenous Cultural Advisor and Knowledge Keeper, has agreed to get us started on the right foot, and share her knowledge and wisdom with us. We are excited to dig deep to move our agency forward in the spirit of reconciliation.
If you are interested in using September 30th, the next few months, or next year to undertake your own journey with reconciliation, we have some recommendations that we have found helpful to get you started.
Start at the beginning by learning more about the origins of Orange Shirt Day, Phyllis Webstad’s story, and the history behind this significant day.
If you are looking to expand your understanding about what Indigenous children truly experienced at Residential Schools, we would recommend you create space for and listen directly to survivors who have shared their stories.
If you want to deepen your learning, we recommend you read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action report and Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the Nation Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Locally, we recommend you have a look at the website for ConnectR, which provides many easy-to-follow suggestions and resources for you to choose your own steps toward reconciliation.
To the survivors who were subjected to sexualized violence in Residential Schools or at another point in your life, we are here for you if and when you are ready to reach out to us. We will be thinking of you on September 30th.
Faye Davis, Executive Director