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Public invited to participate in Truth and Reconciliation Day events on the Coast

This Saturday marks the Third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a day dedicated to raising awareness about residential schools' impact and supporting survivors.
National day for truth & reconciliation i
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2022 drew a crowd of hundreds to a ceremony held by shíshálh Nation and the syiyaya Reconciliation Movement.

Help and support for survivors and their families can be found through the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or A crisis line is also available through Indian Residential School Survivors and Family at 1-866-925-4419.

The third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the shíshálh swiya (world or territory) will be on this coming Saturday, Sept. 30, and will include a series of events the public are invited to participate in.

The day is designated to recognize, honour, and support survivors of residential schools, and local events will commemorate the children who attended the Sechelt Residential School.

There will be a number of events where the public can show their solidarity, gain knowledge on truth and reconciliation and support local Indigenous artists. 

As well this year, syiyaya Reconciliation Movement is coordinating the Healing Hearts project where 651 hearts will be painted and personalized to honour survivors and the children. Fifty-one of the hearts are engraved with the names of the 51 Nations that attended the school. While this event is not open to the public, these hearts will be mounted on the chain link fence around the mem7iman Child Development Centre and Friendship Park, both fronting onto xenichen Avenue.

shíshálh Nation events open to the public

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a Commemoration Ceremony will take place at the Residential School Monument site to honour and remember attendees of the Sechelt Residential School. Drumming and singing, speakers, a moment of silence, and cultural ceremony will take place. 

The monument is located behind the shíshálh administration buildings and Raven's Cry Theatre. 

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the Walk for Reconciliation will take place. The public is invited to participate in a walk for reconciliation that will begin at the Residential School Monument site. 

For those who plan to attend the walk, it is recommended to park at Tsain-Ko Centre across the street, as parking onsite will be reserved for those with mobility challenges. 

Other ways to mark Truth and Reconciliation 

  • Visit tems swiya Museum for a detailed history of shíshálh Nation, and to purchase your locally-designed orange shirt (see details on that below).
  • Visit the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives, which is open for reduced hours, from 2 to 6 p.m., to encourage people to attend the shíshálh Nation event earlier that day, and is located at 716 Winn Road, Gibsons. There you can explore the Kwekwinmut Pieces of the Past stone tool exhibit, co-curated with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation. In recognition of the day admission will be free on Saturday, Sept 30.
  • Watch the video created in 2021 by shíshálh Nation about National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which highlights the Orange Shirt Day events from that year, as well as history of the shíshálh Nation. 
  • Film screening and dialogue: Sunshine Coast Arts Council is hosting a free film screening of Augusta, a 16-minute film by Anne Wheeler. The short documentary outlines the life of Mary Augusta Tappage Evans, a Shuswap-Métis elder, midwife, and storyteller who was separated from her family and sent to a residential school. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre at 5714 Medusa Street.  Following the film, the Arts Center is hosting “Dialogue: Land Learning: Reflections on responsibility, relationality, and being in place.” This event will feature how local arts and culture organizations are working on creating good relations on shíshálh and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh lands, as well as how artists and cultural practices contend with settler responsibilities and the legacies of colonialism. 

Where can I get an orange shirt?

All attendees are invited to wear an orange shirt to show solidarity with residential school survivors. 

Orange shirts designed by shíshálh artists are available for purchase at tems swiya Museum, where all proceeds will go towards future activities for Elders and residential school survivors. 

Two types of T-shirts are available this year: a heavy cotton shirt for $25, and a lighter cotton shirt, which costs $30. To get yours, call: 604-885-6012, sales are cash only. 

The 2023 Orange Shirt Day T-shirt features art from two local designers, and there is also a youth shirt.

The front image was created by artist Charlie Craigan, The design is of a grandmother holding her grandchildren with a hand placed over the grandmother's heart. The feathers frame the design with the Orange Shirt Day slogan of Every Child Matters.

The image on the back of the shirt was created by artist Manuela Salinas and features children’s hands transforming into wings. The design recognizes each child who has been impacted by residential schools and finding the recognition and awareness they deserve. The image also includes the shíshálh language translation of “Every Child Matters” and the names of all the Nations that attended Sechelt Residential School. 

This year shíshálh Nation welcomed shíshálh youth to submit their designs for a youth-specific shirt, where artist Braelynn Mazur created the winning design. The design has 51 white dots on a hand recognizing the 51 nations that attended the Sechelt Residential School. 

Other resources

  • Learn about the 94 Calls to Action the Truth and Reconciliation Commission put forth as a path to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian Reconciliation. 
  • Start reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s six-volume final report, which it released at the conclusion of its mandate in 2015. The volumes include The Survivors Speak, which compiles testimonies from residential school survivors. 
  • Archival photos and history about Sechelt Residential School, which operated on the Sunshine Coast from 1904 to 1975, are available through the Indian Residential School History & Dialogue Centre. 
  • The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) has created a resource guide, CCDI’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation / Orange Shirt Day educational guide.
  • The Legacy of Hope Foundation is a national, Indigenous-led, charitable organization that has been working to promote healing and Reconciliation in Canada for more than 19 years and that has a wealth of resources. 
  • The Native Land Digital project has resources to learn about why we acknowledge the unceded lands we use and to learn whose territories we stand on.
  • Rosanna Deerchild hosts the This Place podcast, a 10-part journey through 150 years of Indigenous resistance and resilience.
  • A CBC article highlighting David A. Robertson outlines 48 books by Indigenous writers to read to understand residential schools.
  • IndigiNews is Indigenous-led journalism that creates trauma-informed, culturally relevant and respectful news.

Coming up 

  • On October 18, the Kairos Blanket Exercise will be hosted from 1-4 p.m., at Seaside Center on 5790 Teredo Street. This free workshop will help to understand how colonization of the land we know as British Columbia and Canada has impacted the people who lived here long before the settlers arrived. Be sure to register ahead of time.

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives' operating hours on Sept. 30.