Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today, in Canada it is the Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The government has put aside this day as a way to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools. Members of churches and the RCMP would tear these children away from their parents and homes and place them in "schools" where the hope was to assimilate these children into society. Instead, these places became torture chambers. Abuse of all kinds was perpetrated on these kids. Many ran away from the schools trying to get home. Sadly most of these schools were hundreds of miles away from their homes and most of the children never made it home. These schools were all over the country and the finding of lost children has just begun. With every discovery the wound is reopened, the child and family are lost again.

The last school was closed in 1996. The first official apology was not issued until 2008. 

Before September 30th became the Day for Truth and Reconciliation it was known as Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day was the creation of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad. She is a residential school and one of many who share their stories with us. 

Some things can be easily done to thoughtfully recognize this day. 

Read over the Calls to Action and choose one to champion.

Read one of the many stories from survivors. Chanie Wenjack's story is told with music from Gord Downie and a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire. Or go through these books and find another that speaks to you. 

Here is an interactive map of the residential schools in Canada. See which sites you currently live near. Along with the map, you can hear stories of the survivors.

Before reconciliation can happen, the truth must be heard. This day should also be felt with the heart. Educate yourself, listen, and work on letting go of previous prejudices. It's going to be uncomfortable and it should be. We need to hear the pain and acknowledge it. The generational trauma will continue to affect the community at large; it shows up in many different ways. 

When purchasing your orange shirt ensure that you are buying from Indigenous people. Moonstone Creation is based out of Calgary, IndigenARTSY is an online marketplace. Both of these and many others are run by Indigenous people. 

Take time today to acknowledge the losses suffered and maybe learn about some other issues facing the Indigenous people. Such as the Indian Act, the lack of clean water for many First Nations peoples, and ongoing addiction and abuse issues.

This piece is by an Indigenous artist named Kent Monkman. It is called "The Scream". Monkman is a Cree artist. 


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