‘We remember the children who never came home,’ Truth and Reconciliation events in Metro Vancouver

Each year, Sept. 30 marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The day honours the Indigenous children who were taken from their homes and communities and forced into residential and day schools across the country.

It is a day of reflection and mourning, and commemoration of the painful and violent history and ongoing impacts of the residential school system.

The day also falls on Indigenous-led Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters. Orange shirts are a symbol of the stripping away of culture, language, freedoms, and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

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In a statement Friday morning, the provincial government says the day is an opportunity to honour the resilience, strength, and healing journeys of residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors.

“We recognize this as the beginning of a long journey. We will continue to support those communities that have taken on the deeply painful work of finding their missing children,” the province wrote.

“For many survivors, September brings back sad memories of being taken away from their families and communities. Widely known as Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30 was founded by Phyllis Webstad based on her experiences at St. Joseph Mission Residential School near Williams Lake,” it said. “What began as a grassroots campaign has become a national movement calling for deep reflection on our shared history and a recognition that we are all responsible for advancing reconciliation, anti-racism and anti-bullying.”

The government says the day reminds people of the “obligation to deepen our understanding of Canada’s colonial history” and address the systemic inequities that First Nations, Métis and Inuit people continue to experience.

“We must acknowledge a dark history, while always learning from and listening to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, Indian Day Schools, Indian Hospitals and the Sixties Scoop.

“We encourage all British Columbians to approach today with humility, respect and understanding. Find time to read, watch or listen to Indigenous-created content, participate in a local or virtual event, and wear orange to show that every child matters,” B.C. said.

Ceremonies, marches, and truth-telling events are being held across Metro Vancouver Friday.

Vancouver — Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories

Britannia Community Services Centre hosts Orange Shirt Day
9 a.m. – Assemble at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre (1607 East Hastings Street)
9:45 a.m. – Walk to Grandview Park
10:30 a.m. – Ceremony at Grandview Park. Introduction and welcome by Annie Danilko and guest speaker Kat Norris
11 a.m. – Nisga’a Elders testimony, followed by activities (lunch, drum circle, crafting and sharing)

UBC Intergenerational March to Commemorate Orange Shirt Day
12 p.m. at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, 1985 Learners’ Walk, Vancouver
March will move down the Main Mall and will pause at the Reconciliation Pole

Orange Shirt Day at John Hendy Park
Beginning at 1 p.m. join Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools
Events features ceremonies, stories, drumming and songs

Templeton Indigenous Welcome Garden Orange Shirt Day
Beginning at 2 p.m. at 700 Templeton Dr.
Event includes a performance by Women Rise Drum Group, Elder stories, Indigenous Plant Walk with Lori Snyder, snacks and tea

New Westminster — Kwantlen territory

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Event
Pipe ceremony at Westminster Pier Park begins at 3 p.m.
Organizers are asking attendees to wear orange shirts

Port Moody — Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Stolo territories

A day of learning at Port Moody Station Museum
Beginning at 10 a.m., three documentaries for National Day of Truth and Reconciliation will play
The first, honours Murray Sinclair; the second is a story of Coast Salish knitters; the third, tells the story of resistence by Indigenous women

Surrey — Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen territories

Skookum Surrey holds National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
An afternoon of drumming, sharing, tea and bannock at Holland Park, 13428 Old Yale Rd, Surrey
Beginning at 2 p.m., the event will run until 4 p.m.

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