In May 2021, the remains of 215 children were found at a residential school in Kamloops, BC. Since then, more than 1,300 unmarked graves have been uncovered across the sites of five former residential schools. We recognize that these are not isolated occurrences and in fact are reminders of the ongoing trauma that continues to affect so many in our community.
In the words of SheEO Venture Sisters Sage: “This is what genocide looks like. Hundreds of tiny babies. People who could have had families and created nations. 215 tiny graves all in the name of the Roman Catholic Church and Colonization. I’m so disheartened. I’m sad. I’m mad. I’m livid. I have to do something! I feel powerless. I remember.
My existence is resistance.
Today we are experiencing our collective trauma of the lasting damaged and inter-generational trauma caused from colonization and continued ongoing genocide. Please reach out if you need to speak with someone.”
As part of its commitment to reconciliation, The Government of Canada recently passed legislation to make September 30th a federal statutory holiday known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is meant to remember and ensure that the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten.
“This day provides Canadians with an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools. This may present itself as a day of quiet reflection or participation in a community event.”
In the United States, “the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) has worked to open up healing spaces for boarding school survivors, their descendants, and many others impacted by the legacy of Indian boarding schools in the U.S.”
This year on September 30th, they will be honouring a National Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools.
As we come together to recognize the egregious harms and the ongoing intergenerational trauma caused by residential and boarding schools, we’re also taking this time to acknowledge the powerful voices + leadership in our community who are committed to transforming systems for a more just + equitable world.
Today and every day let’s acknowledge the role that each of us can play in dismantling colonial systems and take this time to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation using the resources below.
“This day honours those who were taken from their homes and placed in residential schools around Canada. These schools forced Metis, Inuit, and First Nations children to disconnect from their culture and assimilate into Canadian society. It is important for the reconciliation process for the individuals and families that were affected by the residential schools.
September 30th? This was the time of year children were taken from their homes to the residential schools.
Orange? Phyllis Webstad, a former student and creator of orange shirt day, left for her first day at the residential school in her new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother. When she arrived, they took her brand new shirt away from her.”
Some actions we can all take:
- Buy Orange Shirts from Indigenous-owned businesses such as:
- Totem Design House, SheEO Venture (limited stock)
- Skwachays Lodge
- Orange Shirt Day
- Turtle Lodge Trading Post
- Note: Many of these artists and suppliers have limited stock and an overwhelm of orders. Your shirt may not arrive by Sept 30 but we encourage everyone to demonstrate solidarity by wearing the shirts year-round.
- Register + take the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada online course.
- Learn the history of the Indigenous peoples and land that you inhabit. Resources can be found on Native-Land.ca
- In addition to learning the history of your local region, recognize and show appreciation by incorporating land acknowledgements into your regular practice. Activator Cindy Gross shared a great example of a land acknowledgement she has used at previous SheEO events.
- Attending + supporting events hosted by local First Nations (or Native Americans) on September 30th.
- Read the 94 calls to action from the Truth & Reconciliation commission. What is one action that you can support or act on in your own world or in your businesses?
- Read the calls for justice and report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls MMIWG. What is one action that you can support or act on in your own world or in your businesses?
- Amplify stories that are already being shared by Indigenous peoples in the community.
- Check out the Indigenous Resource List for allies from Andrea Menard.
- See this list of 270 Indigenous women owned businesses, curated by the LIFT Circle, to shop from + support.
- Support Indigenous-owned + led Ventures in the SheEO community