Wednesday, September 30 was Orange Shirt Day. This is a day set aside for remembering the treatment of Indigenous peoples at residential schools in Canada. Indigenous children were forcefully removed from their homes and taken to residential schools. At the schools they were not permitted to speak their own languages and often forced to do menial work. Many were subject to physical and sexual abuse. Residential schools are not something from the distant past: the last residential school closed in 1996. The residential school system traumatized Indigenous people and prevented the transfer of culture from generation to generation. As part of truth and reconciliation, it is vital to remember the terrible wrong done to Indigenous people through residential schools. We must take this understanding with us as we work to reconcile settlers and Indigenous peoples.
Our commitment as teachers to taking action for real truth and reconciliation continues every day of the year. We know residential schools were sites of harm, and as educators we have the power to make schools sites of healing, truth, and understanding. It takes all of us, and will take time. Let’s continue our important work in this area with energy and enthusiasm.
We know many schools make this an important celebration within your school year. If you were able to take a socially distanced group photo in your school, we would love to share in a future edition of the STA Connection or an upcoming Advocate.