This article was written by Rosie Emery and published by the Green Party of Canada.
OTTAWA – Today, the Green Party of Canada commemorates the thousands of Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada. Orange Shirt Day is the legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891 – 1981) Commemoration Project and Phyllis Webstad, who was sent to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974, when she was only six years old. Ms. Webstad is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band).
“The lasting impacts of this dark period of Canada’s history endures to this day for so many Indigenous people,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Families and communities that were torn apart then, still live with the consequences. As we seek a path towards reconciliation, this day reminds us to acknowledge what happened, to reflect on the suffering incurred, and to ensure that it may never happen again.”
Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) said: “The deep and abiding pain of the residential school system is not history. It is deeply felt on an inter-generational basis. As Greens, we strive to be good allies. We continue to press for the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation process and the recommendations of the MMIWG Inquiry to be acted upon. One day a year is never enough in the quest for true reconciliation.”
Jenica Atwin, Green MP for Fredericton and caucus critic for Crown-Indigenous relations and Indigenous services concluded: “Orange shirt day is a critical day of action in recognition of the terrible tragedy of Indian residential Schools and their lasting legacy. Canada has a moral and fiduciary responsibility for reparations in the quest for justice and peace.
“In New Brunswick, I am proud of our public education system and our on-reserve schools for taking up the often painful challenge of residential school education and awareness. Across the province, children, parents, teachers and allies wear orange to honour survivors, the resiliency of their descendants and the thousands of innocent children lost. We must never forget and we must follow through with our promise to honour the calls to action from the truth and reconciliation commission of Canada, without further delay. Kiselomol Wassisok – (Love the children).”