On September 30, CLBC recognizes Orange Shirt Day and the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation declared by the Government of Canada and marked by the provincial government of B.C. This day creates awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of Residential Schools.
In 2021, CLBC’s Indigenous Relations team led by Joanne Mills, Executive Director of Indigenous Relations, distributed over 650 Orange Shirt Day shirts to all CLBC staff, featuring special “Every Child Matters” artwork commissioned by CLBC and painted by Wyatt Collins who is Nlaka’pamux from the Nicola Valley and lives with autism.
Wyatt explains his inspirations included, “children on the red road.”
“In Indigenous culture the red road signifies a spiritual path and being connected to everything, respecting all our relations, Mother Earth and Father Sky. It reminds us to honour our ancestors. It is walking the right path in life and believing in a power higher and greater than us.”
CLBC’s Cultural Safety Policy
As part of CLBC’s work toward reconciliation, in 2022 CLBC developed a new internal policy to shape how we work with Indigenous individuals, families, and communities: a Cultural Safety Policy.
This policy describes the cultural safety principles and practices that guide how CLBC staff and service providers engage, support, monitor, and plan with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, their families and/or support networks, and communities. It promotes inclusion, anti-racism, equity, reconciliation, and flexible service delivery for Indigenous individuals CLBC serves.
What is cultural safety?
Cultural Safety is an outcome of respectful engagement based on recognition of the power imbalances inherent in government and other systems, and the work to address these imbalances. A culturally safe environment for Indigenous peoples is one that is physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually safe without challenge, ignorance, or denial of an individual’s identity.
About National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30
In 2021, the Government of Canada declared September 30 the “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation”. The declaration of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation responds to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission call to action which involves the creation of a statutory day “to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
This day of commemoration was also prompted by the tragic rediscovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children that were found near the former residential school of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops. The publicity of this event shocked Canadians and reminded us of the dark history we share. In total, across Canada, 2,207 unmarked graves of Indigenous children have been discovered outside of Indian Residential Schools since the 1970s.
About Orange Shirt Day, September 30
Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, on her first day of school, where she arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.