Anishinabek Nation leadership encourage learning about the truth this Canada Day
Trigger warning: readers may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools. To access a 24-hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419.
ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (June 29, 2021) – Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe encourages all Canadians to consider wearing orange this Canada Day and make the effort to learn about the true history of this country.
“We know the history, we have heard the stories, and we know that there will inevitably be more gravesites that will come to light. As a collective, we need to find and understand the truth before we can consider any kind of reconciliation,” says Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “Take the time to learn about Indian Residential Schools and Indigenous history in this Canadian Nation. If survivors choose to share their story, take the time to listen and learn with an open mind and heart. Let the families of those who never returned home, speak and guide us. If you can lay semaa down, sing, or hold ceremony for these binooji spirits, please do so to help them on their journey into the Spirit World.”
Ogimaa Duke Peltier of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and Anishinabek Nation Children’s Commissioner attended one of the last operating Indian Residential Schools in Saskatchewan.
“The truth of our experiences that is now capturing the attention of the global community requires all of us to learn from this dark past and ensure that this never happens again,” states Ogimaa Peltier. “Anishinabek languages and our culture will continue to persevere regardless of the injustices we endure. An immediate and decisive commitment to reconciliation by Canada will realize a future that is beautiful, colourful, and wonderful.”
Wearing Orange on Canada Day this year comes from the inspiration for Orange Shirt Day which came from residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad, who shared her story at a St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion event held in Williams Lake, British Columbia, in the spring of 2013. Phyllis recounted her first day of residential schooling at six years old when she was stripped of her clothes, including the new orange shirt her grandmother bought her, which was never returned. The orange shirt now symbolizes how the residential school system took away the Indigenous identity of its students and opens the door to a global conversation on all aspects of residential schools.
“As treaty partners, learning about the history of the Canadian Nation is a shared responsibility that takes initiative and accountability from every individual occupying these lands,” adds Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “Wearing orange not only symbolizes your awareness that every child matters but also your willingness to listen and understand. It is a step forward together. This month, it is encouraging that Canada’s Oath of Citizenship will officially recognize First Nations, Inuit, and Métis obligations. Obligations that all citizens, including newcomers, have to uphold the Treaties between the Crown and Indigenous Nations.”
In addition to simply wearing an orange shirt, Canadians are encouraged to learn more about the history of residential schools and their assimilation practices, drawing from Phyllis’ experience in particular.