September 30: A day not only to reflect, but also to learn from history
Phyllis Jack Webstad attended St. Joseph boarding school near Williams Lake as a child – it would change her life forever.
But, it was a poignant story she would share in 2013 that would shine a light on the cruelty and injustices of Canada’s residential school system.
From there, a concept – Orange Shirt Day and an awareness campaign under the umbrella Every child matters.
The significance of this day dates back to Webstad’s first day at boarding school.
She recounted when she was six years old where she was stripped of her clothes, including a brand new orange t-shirt given to her by her grandmother.
It was never returned.
Last year, following the discovery of the unmarked graves of nearly 1,000 Indigenous children, their parents never knowing what had happened to them, the federal government declared September 30 a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation; the day was set aside not only to reflect on the impact of residential schools on a culture of children, but also to learn from history.
“Today, September 30, 2022, marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, for all Canadians to create meaningful conversations and maintain our commitment to reconciliation,” said the Mayor of Fort St. John, Lori Ackermann.
“Today is a day for all Canadians to understand the unequal path created by the Indian Act, to honor the survivors of residential schools, and to recognize the pain they and their families have carried for generations.
“We must come together in a meaningful way to build a future based on relationships and mutual respect, a future that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will welcome.”
Peace River Regional District Chair Brad Sperling added his thoughts on the day.
“Meaningful reconciliation must begin with a foundation of mutual respect and understanding, and it’s something we all have a role to play, whether as government, businesses or individuals,” Sperling wrote.
“I encourage all residents to join in the dialogue, engagement, learning and reflection on the shared history of the residential school system this September 30, and to seek ways to uphold truth and justice. reconciliation at the local level, on an ongoing basis.
A number of BC communities, including some in our region, will commemorate this day with marches and ceremonies.
In Fort St. John, a walk and barbecue is planned for Centennial Park on Friday.
An opening prayer and drumming will begin proceedings at 11:00 a.m. with a march to follow at 11:30 a.m.
The Taylor Community Hall will host a First Nations dance round on Friday evening.
A pipe ceremony at 5 p.m. will kick off the evening’s events which will also include a tea dance and feast.
And, in Fort Nelson, a community breakfast is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Fort Hotel, before an awareness march at 11:30 a.m. (corner of 42nd Street and 50th Avenue North) and a rally at the Phoenix Theater with guest speakers. and a movie at 1 p.m.