At last night’s Council meeting we adopted the Culture Alliance Orange Shirt Day Statement as read by Councillor Cher Cunningham (our rep on the Alliance). The Culture Alliance, our joint culture committee serving Beausoleil First Nation, the Towns of Midland and Penetanguishene and the Townships of Tay and Tiny, has crafted a unified statement furthering each community’s commitment to building bridges within our local cultures and facilitating the ability of individuals to access education on the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples with the purpose of ending thoughts, acts and behaviours of racism.
The Culture Alliance wishes to share this statement on their website on a continuous basis, with an annual review and update, and to issue it via their social media channels on September 30, 2021.
CULTURE ALLIANCE – ORANGE SHIRT DAY STATEMENT
On this day, September 30th, Orange Shirt Day – a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, the Culture Alliance works to celebrate, foster, promote and leverage the cultures of the area. Bringing together the five communities of Beausoleil First Nation, the Towns of Midland and Penetanguishene, and the Townships of Tay and Tiny, with the recognition that culture is not bound or restricted by any geographic or municipal boundaries, has resulted in a valuable, unique, collaborative and positive partnership.
Between 1830 and 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children attended residential or day schools, including six-year-old Phyllis Webstad, who was excited about her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Her grandmother had bought her a new, bright orange shirt, for the special day. When she arrived at the church-run residential school, she was stripped of her clothes, her hair was cut, and her new orange shirt was taken away, never to be seen again.
As Phyllis stated, “The colour orange has always reminded me of that, and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt I was worth nothing.” Orange Shirt Day was commemorated from Phyllis’s experience.
On June 2, 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report which included 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential and day schools and advance the process of reconciliation. The recent discoveries of remains and unmarked graves across Canada has led to increased calls for all levels of government
to address the recommendations in the TRC’s Calls to Action. All Canadians and all levels of government have a role to play in reconciliation. The Culture Alliance recognizes and seeks to raise awareness about residential and day schools in Canada, and we ask you to join together in the spirit of reconciliation, to honour the victims and experiences of Indigenous Peoples.
The Culture Alliance exists to build bridges and therefore does not seek to assign guilt or blame. We aim to raise awareness and make positive change. We recognize that for many, you are just learning about residential and day schools and the abuse of Indigenous children at the hands of churches and the government. We ask that we all take further steps to learn more about this history and the impact that is still felt today. We also ask that everyone take this day to honour and remember the victims.