Today marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, and people and organizations across the country are being encouraged to acknowledge the day by hosting activities and educational events that honour the First Nations people of Canada who survived the residential school system as well as those children who did not return home from residential schools.
People can honour the day by wearing orange, the official colour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and organizations can support the day by hosting educational activities using resources from the Government of Canada’s website.
During the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, OMNI Health Care long-term care homes hosted events that involved residents and staff members.
For example, West Lake Terrace hosted an all-day event that included introducing residents to traditional First Nations foods and holding an information session focused on the traditions and customs of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.
The event also featured a video presentation that included an interview with a residential school survivor.
Everyone was also asked to wear orange, a colour that has important significance.
In 1973, Phyllis Webstad, a then-six-year-old First Nations student from British Columbia, had an orange shirt taken from her by teachers at the residential school she attended.
In addition to today being the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it’s also Orange Shirt Day, which was first acknowledged on Sept. 30, 2013, to raise awareness of the injustices First Nations, Inuit and Métis people faced in residential schools.
Orange has been designated as the colour of remembrance for the children who didn’t return home from residential schools.
“The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations,” the Government of Canada says on its website.
“On September 30, we encourage all Canadians to wear orange to honour the thousands of Survivors of residential schools.”
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PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, West Lake Terrace team members wear orange shirts during the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021.