First the Truth and then Reconciliation
September is the month kids go back to school. It was also the time over the years that thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families to attend residential schools. Phyllis Webstad remembered the new orange shirt her grandmother gave her for the first day at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school which was subsequently wrenched away and never returned. At Williams Lake B.C. in 2013 Phyllis heard the Honourable Murry Sinclair speak to the atrocities perpetrated at those schools and she decided to tell her own story. An orange shirt representing the history, tears and profound pain of small children forced to give up their culture, families, homes, and childhood. Since 2013 we have recognized Orange Shirt Day to remind us, and as settlers, we are called to account.
This past year, the graves and tiny bones of residential school children continue to be unearthed. Exposed are both the horrifying histories of stolen children and the indisputable impact of colonization. Truth revealed, with evidentiary facts of the traumatic stories of children taken from their homes to ‘get the Indian out of the child’.
September 30, 2021, has now been declared a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Call to Action 80. This day invites those of us who are settlers to consider and commit to the work that is now ours to do…because we know and can no longer escape these horrendous truths. It is now our turn to bear the burden of responsibility and commit to act…. even if and because it is hard and painful. Intergenerational trauma reverberates from generation to generation. And now the work of knowing and repairing has been passed from our settler ancestors to us as we engage with Indigenous, First Nations and Metis people, clans, and communities. And we must listen to the stories, stay with the tears, recognize the deaths and the lives of those left with the memories. And then we must engage empathically, leaning into this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation committing to work for change. Because now it is ours to do. And when we accept the truth and responsibility, then Reconciliation can begin.
Lynne Raskin – Michelle Hurtubise ( Executive Director and Board Chair)