September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This federal statutory holiday gives us a chance to recognize and commemorate the intergenerational harm that residential schools caused to Indigenous families and communities, and to honour those who have been affected by this injustice.
The ‘Orange Shirt’ originates from Phyllis Jack Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation who attended St. Joseph Mission Residential School. On her first day of school, Phyllis wore an orange shirt that her grandmother had given her. It was immediately taken away, and that marked the beginning of Phyllis’s long separation from her family and community, a separation caused by actions of the church and federal government.