The last day of September has been observed in Canada as Orange Shirt Day since 2013. This year it becomes a full-fledged federal statutory holiday to recognize the human costs of the Indian Residential School system – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Schools and federal government offices will be closed for the day, but even if it’s a regular work day for most of us, it won’t be just another day. It marks a new phase in Canada’s relationship with the Indigenous people, with Sept. 30 now officially set aside for perpetual remembrance.
This week’s issue contains 10 pages dedicated to this new Canadian holiday and it provides suggestions for a variety of ways to participate in a meaningful way. Beyond ceremonies, T-shirts and educational materials, however, the opportunities are rich and endless. Everyone can do reconciliation and there is no neat formula to follow.
A wonderful example is highlighted in this week’s coverage by reporter Keili Bartlett of the grand opening of the West Sechelt Elementary School expansion. The focal point of the ceremony was a gesture by Sechelt’s Clayton family – the donation of a fine hand-woven tray, along with other crafted objects that had been given to the family over the years, to the school district’s Indigenous Education team. “This is actually truth and reconciliation right here,” tems swiya Museum curator Raquel Joe said at the ceremony, describing the family’s donation.
We don’t all have valuable artifacts to give back. But we all have something to offer – our respect, attention and understanding – as we enter this new phase together.