Ministers Vandal, Miller, Bennett and Guilbeault mark Orange Shirt Day 2020 (video)
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This video deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. The Government of Canada recognizes the need for safety measures to minimize the risk associated with triggering.
Please call the National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know is triggered while watching this video. You can also call the toll-free Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca.
Hon. Dan Vandal: Kwe, bonjour, hello. Today, September 30th, is Orange Shirt Day, a time where Canadians across the country will be wearing orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools, and to honour the thousands of survivors.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor. At the age of 6, Phyllis went to the St. Joseph Mission Indian Residential School wearing the bright-orange shirt bought by her grandmother. She said she felt "bright and exciting", just like her shirt. But on the first day of school, her new shirt was forcibly taken from her, along with her dignity.
This story is one of the many examples of harm that was inflicted upon the self-esteem and well-being of children who were forced to attend residential schools. Today, we acknowledge the denial of the rights and the wrongdoings of the past, we recognize the present-day impacts across generations, including the trauma carried by survivors and their families.
Hon. Marc Miller: As we continue to move forward on the path of reconciliation, we must never forget the tragic impact of residential schools and we must learn from the experiences shared by survivors.
Orange Shirt Day is about creating space for survivors like Phyllis and their loved ones to share their stories. Stories they may never have had a chance to tell. It's also a day to acknowledge the courage of the former students and families who have come forward to tell and to share their truth.
And it is an invitation to the rest of us to listen and read about these stories with compassion and love. To learn the harsh realities of what actually happened to children at residential schools. To recognize that those children are now adults who still carry this trauma. And to take part in those difficult conversations on our path to reconciliation.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: It is only by increasing our collective understanding of the damage done by colonial policies that we will break down barriers and racism towards Indigenous peoples in Canada.
We encourage everyone to educate themselves about their role on the journey of reconciliation. Take the day to expand your reading list.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action is a good place to start. The Calls to Action can provide you with a fundamental understanding of what specific actions you can take as an individual, and what you should encourage within your own community to advance reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada.
Hon. Steven Guilbeault: That is why we invite you to wear your orange shirt today. This is a moment that we must collectively seize to raise awareness amongst our friends, family and within our communities.
Today is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to make September 30th a statutory holiday. We are working on it and we will have news to share in the near future.
They say it takes a whole village to raise a child. It's true. Every child deserves to feel appreciated, supported and listened to. Above all, every child deserves to feel hopeful about his or her future. Together, we will make that happen.
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