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Premier’s and minister’s statement on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

CANADA, September 30 - Premier David Eby and Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, issued the following statement on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day:

“Today in B.C. and throughout Canada, we recognize the survivors and intergenerational survivors of Indian Residential Schools. We also recognize survivors of Indian Day Schools, Indian Hospitals and the Sixties Scoop. We remember the children who never came home.

“This year, with the unanimous support of all parties in the legislature, B.C. enshrined the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation into provincial law. On this new statutory day of commemoration, people throughout the province come together to honour the strength, resilience and healing journeys of survivors and their families.

“Generations of Indigenous people were removed from their homes and communities and forced to attend these horrific institutions.

“We acknowledge the courage and strength of survivors and intergenerational survivors who continue to share their truth and who have informed ongoing research into the history and immense harm caused by these institutions.

“Their work requires all of us to recognize the truth of the residential school system as part of Canada’s national history and take steps to address its painful legacy.

“We have a solemn responsibility to listen to survivors, deepen our understanding of B.C.’s and Canada’s colonial histories, and address the systemic inequities that First Nations, Métis and Inuit people continue to experience.

“Orange Shirt Day would not exist without the strength and courage of the campaign’s founder, Phyllis Webstad. Her story of residential school survival, as well as those shared by Orange Shirt Day Victoria co-founder Eddy Charlie, the late Rick Gilbert, former Chief of Williams Lake First Nation, and many others, sparked a national conversation on the true history of this country.

“On this 10th anniversary of Orange Shirt Day, we encourage everyone to learn about the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to have discussions about how we can all take action to advance reconciliation. We also encourage people to read, watch or listen to Indigenous-created content, participate in a local in-person or virtual event, and wear orange to show that ‘every child matters.’

“Survivor testimonies have helped inform continued research and investigations at former residential school sites. Since the news of Le Estcwicwéy̓ by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in 2021, First Nations in B.C. continue to seek and document the truth. We acknowledge findings have been publicly shared by Williams Lake, Tseshaht, shíshálh, and Stó:lō First Nations.

“In the ongoing journey of reconciliation, B.C. is working with First Nations to address concerns raised by communities, and in an interim report this year by Canada’s Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools.

“Let us remember and honour the past. By working together in action towards reconciliation, we can help bring respect where there has been indignity, and healing where there has been pain. We must do this work not only for the children of today but also for generations to come.”

Support services are available:

A National Indian Residential School crisis line has been set up to provide support for former residential school students and others affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1 866 925-4419.

The KUU-US Crisis Line Society:

  • Crisis services for Indigenous Peoples in B.C. are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free throughout the province at 1 800 588-8717.
  • Alternatively, individuals can call direct into the adult/Elders line at 250 723-4050 or the children/youth line at 250 723-2040.
  • For information, visit: http://www.kuu-uscrisisline.com

Métis Crisis Line:

  • A service provided by Métis Nation British Columbia is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free across the province at 1 833 638-4722.