As Orange Shirt Day, September 30 has been a day to recognize and reflect on the legacy of Residential Schools and the intergenerational trauma these institutions inflicted upon survivors, their families and communities.
This year, across the country, Canada also prepares to recognize the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. Establishing a day for awareness and reflection was one of the 94 ‘Calls to Action’ issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015.
Today, we within the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) wear orange. We wear orange to show our solidarity with the survivors and the victims. To show the families that they are seen and heard, and that their experiences matter. That their children matter.
We must come together as a nation to heal, there is no other way. And the intergenerational trauma that affects so many of our kin must be addressed and reconciled.
Earlier this year, these tragic experiences were brought to the forefront following the devastating discoveries of unmarked graves at former Residential School sites across the country. The mass, unmarked graves containing the bodies of hundreds of First Nation, Inuit and Métis children is a chilling reminder of the loss of life that occurred, and a genocide overlooked. We know there were many Métis who attended residential and day school institutions and were affected by the destructive policies that these schools implemented. However, due to a lack of reliable record keeping and inaccurate status accounts of the victims, the exact number of institutionalized Metis children is unknown.
But we do know that there can be no true reconciliation for families and communities without closure, and there cannot be closure without governments and faith institutions doing their part to help make that happen. We must all call for more action from our elected leaders and civil society. Thoughts and prayers are not enough to bring true reconciliation.
Establishing a national day of reflection is only one of the 94 ‘calls to action’ but we hope will provide an opportunity for dialogue on these critical issues to take place across Canada. We commend those workplaces and institutions that will mark the significance of this day with productive and meaningful conversations on the truth behind the residential schools, the on-going legacies, and reconciliation.
Keep in mind that the effort, outreach, and education does not end with the month of September. We all have a role to play in furthering reconciliation and advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples. We ask that you lend your voice to this very necessary dialogue today, and that you keep the significance and ideals of Truth and Reconciliation in your hearts year-round.