Thursday, February 22, 2024

5 things you can do to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation


This Friday, September 30th we’ll recognize the second ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

It is a day where we must support Indigenous communities and come together in acknowledging, honouring and recognizing those touched by the residential school system that harmed countless people across generations and the entirety of Canada. 

It started out as a movement dubbed ‘Orange Shirt Day’ because of the orange shirts people would wear as a symbol of the culture and the children that were lost to the residential school system.

The federal government established an observance for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2013 on September 30th, in solidarity with the Orange Shirt Day movement.

Then in 2021 the day was observed as a statutory holiday for the first time.

Here’s what is going on in Victoria on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, 2022:

South Island Powwow

This year all 13 municipalities that make up the Capital Regional District (CRD) unified to put the power in the hands of Indigenous leaders in our community and the result is the South Island Powwow.

‘Coming To Gather Again’ is presented by the Songhees Nation. The event is meant to celebrate the traditions and culture of all bands and Nations on southern Vancouver Island.

The South Island Powwow is an opportunity to recognize Survivors and their families in the spirit of reconciliation. Through song and dance, we will celebrate traditional Indigenous cultures and resiliency.

They believe September 30th is a day to reflect and celebrate our culture. For this reason, they will only be hosting intertribal dance groups, with no competition. They will sing and dance together, not against one another. This is a time to memorialize the past and future. 

  • Where: Royal Athletic Park – 1014 Caledonia Avenue
  • When: Friday, September 30th – 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Truth & Reconciliation Day Ride

Capital Bike will once again be leading a bike ride on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The ride is meant to honour survivors of the residential school system and their families as well as inform its participants on the impacts still felt today.

Diane Sam of the Songhees Nation will send off the riders from the start point with a speech on the significance of the land that Songhees Park is on.

The family-safe bike ride along Victoria’s all ages and abilities (AAA) network will then start at 10 a.m. and go to Royal Athletic Park, arriving at 11:45 a.m. in time for the South Island Powwow’s Grand Entry Ceremony.

  • Where: Songhees Park to Royal Athletic park
  • When: Friday, September 30th – 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
  • Admission: Free

Xe Xe Smun’ Eem–Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony

Xe Xe Smun’ Eem–Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony was developed by residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and friend Kristin Spray in 2015 while attending the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College.

The ceremony will begin with a welcome and blessing of the land by Tsartlip Nation Elder May Sam, a land acknowledgement done by Songhees Nation member Brianna Bear. 

Indigenous performances will then begin featuring: Westwind Intertribal Drum, spoken-word poet Shauntelle Dick-Charleson and singers Nicole Mandryk and Adam Gauthier who will be accompanied by students from the Tree of Life Playschool.

Xe Xe Smun’ Eem will include the annual raising of the Victoria Orange Shirt Day flag and a minute of silence to honour and remember the children who did not survive residential schools. 

Indigenous Perspectives Society Executive Director Rachelle Dallaire who is from the Montagnais people in lower Quebec and is an intergenerational survivor will be emceeing the ceremony.

  • Where: Centennial Square 
  • When: Friday, September 30th – 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Truth Before Reconciliation

Vic Theatre is hosting a screening of Healing Nation by Symbia Barnab to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Symbia Barnaby is an Indigenous woman of Haida and Mi’kmaq descent living in northern BC. 

This film is a testament to the power of sharing our stories and proof that with honesty, gentleness and compassion. With those tools, we can find the strength to speak the truth and to tell stories and heal a nation.

The lasting legacy of residential schools and the displacement caused by these institutions is not something of our past. It is still very much part of our lived reality. Foster care, forced removal and birth alerts are all reflections of the same institutions that stole children years ago. 

Following the film, a discussion about what it means to address intergenerational trauma, to heal ourselves, our families and our nations will take place with Symbia herself.

  • Where: Vic Theatre – 808 Douglas Street
  • When: Friday, September 30th – 4:30 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Purchase an official Victoria Orange Shirt Day t-shirt

The organization was started by Eddy Charlie and his friend Kristin Spray based on the true story of Phyllis Webstad. 

All proceeds of the sales of their orange shirts and related products go towards the annual Xe Xe Smun’ Eem Orange Shirt Day Ceremony, Residential School Survivors and the continuing year-round costs of raising awareness of the effects of residential schools.

  • Where: Online
  • When: Year-round
  • Cost: $25 for a t-shirt
Curtis Blandy

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