To Our GoodLife Family,

September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. 

It all started in 1973 with six-year-old Phyllis Webstad. Phyllis, born in Dog Creek First Nation (now Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, on the traditional territory of the Secwepemcúl’ecw) in British Columbia, was forced to attend St. Joseph Mission Residential School. On her first day, she proudly wore a brand-new orange shirt but on arrival, staff stripped her of her clothes, including her new orange shirt, which she would never get back. Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 to educate people about the Indian Residential Schools and the fight against anti-Indigenous racism and bullying.

With the recent discoveries of remains at the sites of former Indian Residential Schools across Canada, many of us have been forced to confront the horrors of brutal mistreatment and the ongoing oppression of Indigenous Peoples.

Recently, the Canadian government passed legislation to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday. This was originally proposed in 2015 and received Royal Assent on June 3, 2021. This is a great step towards ensuring that we continue to honour survivors, their families and communities and also to remind people in Canada that the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools is a crucial component of the reconciliation process.

Did you know?

Indian Residential Schools were in operation from the 1880s to the 1990s, and were boarding schools designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society. Indigenous children were separated from their families by government officials and stripped of their clothing, names, cultures, traditions and languages. It’s estimated that 150,000 Indigenous children attended these schools, and 6,000 children died.

What can I do?

For non-Indigenous Associates and Members, a great way to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is by committing to learning about Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Reconciliation. According to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report, Reconciliation is about “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behavior.”