Today, Premier Doug Ford and Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, released the following statement in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day:
“Ontario is observing the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today, we will take the time to learn and reflect on the dark legacy of the Indian Residential School system and its impacts on Indigenous communities. We honour the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, as well as those who did not make it home, and acknowledge the ongoing trauma experienced by survivors, families, and communities.
September 30th also marks Orange Shirt Day thanks to the courage of Phyllis Jack Webstad, a survivor from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation who attended St. Joseph Mission Residential School in British Columbia. On her first day of school, Phyllis proudly wore an orange shirt given to her by her grandmother. When she arrived, the shirt was immediately taken away from her by school staff, marking the beginning of Phyllis’s long and traumatic separation from her family and community, and from her culture and language.
People in Ontario and across Canada wear orange shirts to remember and honour Indigenous children who were taken from their communities and families and forced to attend Residential Schools.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day are an important part of Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The province will be lighting several government buildings orange to honour survivors, their families and the children who did not return home.
Ontarians are encouraged to learn about and reflect on the intergenerational harm that Indian Residential Schools have caused Indigenous families and communities, and to honour and commemorate those who have been affected. There are many learning sources available to deepen the understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential School system and the impacts it continues to have today. The government has highlighted some of these resources at Ontario.ca/LearnTheLegacy.
Today, we listen to Indigenous voices and ensure they are heard loudly and clearly. We know there is a long road ahead, but it is a road we will walk together in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”