Today is Orange Shirt Day, an important day on our collective calendar here in Canada. On this day we remember and honour the First Nations, Métis and Inuit children who were sent away to residential schools across the country and learn more about the history of those schools. This is a part of our history that for the longest time went unspoken about, untaught in schools and largely ignored by society. Thankfully, that started to change with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission started to change that, forcing Canadians to face up to the history of this country and deal with its fallout.
For some in Canada this is a story that took place in the past but for others of us this is very close to our hearts, our lives, our friends, families and loved ones. There are too many people in my life, family, friends and those who I admire greatly, who added either a residential school or a day school. There are too many faces and names of those people who were affected by the policies enacted by the elected governments of Canada for generations that created those systems and awful places. I am who I am today and am influenced by the experiences felt by those people in my life, and that’s something I cannot ignore.
It was with that in mind that I debated if I would even write about this today or not. As my daughter put on her orange shirt before going to school today, I thought about talking about that experience now as a parent and our conversations that we’ve had about why we wear orange on this day. But the words didn’t come to me, they just didn’t. But thankfully in the House of Commons today all parties made statements on this important day. NDP MP Leah Gazan rose to speak on the behalf of her party and in doing so, she said things so much better than I ever could have. So I decided to share those words here. Marsi, Miigwetch, Merci and Thank You Leah for your words, they spoke the volumes that needed to be said.