The Haisla Nation Health Centre team did a walk with their shirts for Orange Shirt Day 2020, to honour the victims of residential schools and their families and loved ones. (Haisla Nation photo)

Kitamaat Village honours Orange Shirt Day from a physical distance

Orange Shirt Day is a time to commemorate the experiences those placed in residential schools faced

In the wake of COVID-19, Haisla Nation held more physically distant activities to honour Orange Shirt Day this Wednesday (Sept. 30).

Orange Shirt Day is a day to commemorate the experiences faced by those placed in residential schools, to witness and honour the healing journeys of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.

Since 2013, the day has been taking place on Sept. 30 annually, as a way to open the door to global conversation on all aspects of residential schools. It was brought about as a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, B.C. in May 2013.

It came about when a spokesperson for the Reunion group, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, told her story of her first day at the residential school, when, at six-years-old, her new, orange shirt, bought for her by her grandmother for her new school, was taken away from her and never returned.

Cameron Orr, Communications Coordinator for Haisla Nation Council, said that, usually, there’s a formal event held to honour the day and the residents and survivors of residential schools. However, this year, in trying to keep things more physically distant, Haisla Nation Council encouraged each department to take some time to do a walk among their own small group wearing their orange shirts.

The community was also encouraged to do the same, within their own social circle.

Haisla Nation offices were closed on the Wednesday to commemorate the day, but Orr said many departments made sure to get out for walks in the orange shirts first thing on Thursday (Oct. 1).

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor, Crystal Smith, said that just because large gatherings couldn’t occur, didn’t mean the day couldn’t be honoured through reflection and open discussion.

“Even though it’s unfortunate that the pandemic means we can’t gather in our usual way, we don’t need to be in large groups to reflect on how residential schools have hurt and impacted our families and Indigenous people everywhere,” Smith said in an statement.

”Residential schools are not distant memories, they are the recent past. We need moments like Orange Shirt Day to remind ourselves and our children that this is a history we carry with us, and that it was real life to our parents and grandparents. We have to remember those struggles to appreciate more where we are today.”

The annual Orange Shirt Day acts as an opportunity to create meaningful discussion around the effects of residential schools and the legacy they’ve left behind, which all Canadians can listen to and use to create bridges for reconciliation.

The date was chosen because it’s the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it provides an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying talks and policies for the coming school year.

On this day, Canadians are asked to listen to the stories of those who experienced residential schools and to participate in Orange Shirt Day, to help create an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities come together in the spirit of reconciliation, to work to make things better for generations to come.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The donation by LNG Canada will support in-class and online learning for SD82 students, as well as JABC TechWorks, a program that introduces students to tech and tech-related careers. (Black Press file photo)
LNG Canada commits $50,000 to support B.C. students

Half of the money will support online and in-class learning for Coast Mountains School District 82

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Kitimat RCMP investigating two-vehicle collision on Haisla Hill

Police said a pickup truck collided with a taxi headed in the opposite direction

Northern Health saw 14 cases in one day earlier this week, the highest in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. (Image courtesy CDC)
Northern Health sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Oct. 27 saw the highest number of cases in the Health Authority since the beginning of the pandemic

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Water Quality Advisory in effect for Kitimat

The advisory is due to increased turbidity levels in the Kitimat River

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read