‘Orange Shirt Day’ Goes Online for MNO Citizens

Guest Speaker June Smart shares personal stories with the community at the online Orange Shirt Day event.


On September 30th, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) held a virtual Orange Shirt Day event online in recognition of the Indian Residential School legacy and its devastating impacts on Indigenous communities. Now recognized across Canada as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, over 45 citizens attended the online commemorative annual event.

“Our shared vision for this project was to put a distinctly Métis lens on the residential school experience,” shared Community Support Service Coordinator Brittany McHale- Johnson. “We’re going to begin today by discussing what residential schools were, and how their impacts continue to traumatize generations.”

The presentation provided guests an introduction to the residential schools and its legacy with a short video featuring survivor Phyllis Webstad, whose personal account of her experiences sparked the Orange Shirt Day movement years ago. The MNO Family Wellbeing Team then guided attendees through the history of residential schools and the calls to action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report.

Special guest speaker and MNO citizen June Smart, the MNOWC Women’s Rep, North Channel Women’s Rep and MNO Veteran was also invited to share her family experience with the Residential School system and the inter-generational impacts its had on her and her family.

“I am honoured to be asked to speak with you today,” shared June. “My mother is a Residential School Survivor, and like so many others she was taken away from her family so she couldn’t be who she truly was.”

June reflected on her mother’s experience, the guilt, and the emotional scars she developed during her time at the schools, scars and traumas which would be passed down to her children as well. June also testified to her mother’s resilience, and the peace and healing she experienced when attending the Pope’s apology with other Métis brothers and sisters earlier this year:

“It was the resiliency of her Métis brethren that gave her hope that this day was the beginning of reconciliation and a bright future for our nation’s children and grandchildren,” shared June. “Through our mother’s lightened heart, through her desire and need to heal, through her forgiveness, it allowed us to open our hearts and heal with her.”

“I hope that my mother’s story and the stories of so many others that open their hearts in forgiveness will help those seeking peace. I hope that one day they will be able to forgive and find that peace.”

The MNO thanks all those who attended the virtual event and participated in this very necessary dialogue.

 MNO Healing and Wellness Community Colouring Book

While its important to establish days like Orange Shirt Day as a day for learning and targeted discussions to take place across Canada, we should keep these lessons and ideals in mind year round.

This year, MNO Healing and Wellness is pleased to announce they will be launching a Community Colouring Book in honour of Métis families and to raise awareness. All MNO citizens are invited to collaborate on this project. A total of 16 illustrations will be selected from various age categories (child/youth/adult) as well as one chosen from all categories to be used on the cover.

Submissions will be open from September 30 to November 30, 2022 and the chosen artists will be announced in December, 2022. Learn more at: https://www.metisnation.org/news/orange-shirt-day-community-colouring-book/