This post was originally an email sent to UBC students on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.
We honour, celebrate, and thank the Syilx, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam peoples, on whose territories UBC’s Okanagan and Vancouver campuses have the privilege to be situated.
As you know, this September 30th marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a chance for all of us to take time and space to reflect on the legacy of Residential Schools and Canada’s colonial history, understand the truth, and start on a path toward reconciliation.
Some of you may already know this day as Orange Shirt Day. The orange shirts we wear originate from the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Residential School survivor who, on her first day at the St. Joseph's Mission Residential School in BC, had all her clothing taken from her—including a brand-new orange shirt her grandmother had given to her.
Many of our shirts also reference the phrase “Every Child Matters” to honour the children who never made it home from residential school.
I see September 30th as a day that represents the opportunity for deep learning about Canada’s colonial history and its impact on us today and, at the same time, a chance to start unlearning the harmful narratives that have been accepted as truth.
Learn and reflect
Please take time on September 30th to consider what reconciliation means. If you haven’t learned about Indigenous people’s history within Canada before, now is the time.
Here are some places to start:
- Read about 6 ways to deepen your understanding of Indian Residential School history
- Consider purchasing and wearing an Orange Shirt
- Learn about the UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) and the foundational reports that guide the ISP’s creation and implementation
- Attend the on-campus events in Vancouver on September 30, including the Intergenerational march on Main Mall
- Learn the story behind the Orange Shirt Day banners designed by Billie Kruger, a Syilx Okanagan Nation interdisciplinary artist from the Okanagan Indian Band
Join me in pausing to acknowledge this day in a way that speaks to you. I wish you a peaceful day of learning, rest, and reflection.