Today is Canada’s first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day, which became a federal holiday in June this year, “honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.”
Many schools and universities are closed, but Mount Royal University chose to stay open to encourage discussion and dialogue.
The day has sparked reflection across the country from politicians, activists, allies and other groups. Here’s some of the reaction from here in Calgary.
Local political figures share their support
The history behind Orange Shirt Day
September 30th is also widely known as “Orange Shirt Day.” The day originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In 1973, Webstad’s new orange shirt was stripped from her on her first day of at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, BC. In September of 2013, Webstad spoke on her experience for the first time ever, marking the beginning of the movement.
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Local Indigenous Peoples and allies speak out
Teams and organizations help in raising awareness
Mount Royal University remains open
Despite most schools and universities in the province closing for the Day of National Truth and Reconciliation, Mount Royal University remains open.
MRU’s students’ association advocated to keep the school open in response to Indigenous students expressing their desire to use the day as an opportunity to educate staff and students on the history of residential schools and what the path to reconciliation looks like.
MRU is also selling orange shirts and Indigenous literature at the Cougars Campus Store, with the proceeds going towards to the Orange Shirt Society and the Indigenous Student Emergency Fund.
In addition to providing educational opportunities and fundraising, MRU will be lowering the flags to half-mast and lighting the campus orange.