Downtown Squamish flooded with orange shirts and songs on Saturday, Sept. 30 in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Hundreds of people joined the march from Cleveland Avenue and Winnipeg Street to O’Siyam Pavilion in Junction Park. After the march, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Elders, survivors, youth and allies spoke to the crowd.
“It's about taking time and reflecting,” said Charlene Williams, of the Nation, to the crowd. “It's about hearing the truth from our Indigenous communities about how residential school and colonization has affected us. It's about building relationships with our allies. It's about taking time to make sure that we learn from history, take time to make sure that we don't make the same mistakes.”
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours and commemorates the victims and survivors of the residential school system.
Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Elders and survivors told the crowd about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse they endured at these institutions. Second-and third-generation Nation members explained how the trauma passed through generations for their families.
On the grass beneath the pavilion, people sat and listened and eventually the event ended with Nation members leading the group in song and dance.
Before the day was recognized as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada, it was known as Orange Shirt Day with the date a reference to the time of year when children were typically taken from their homes and forced to the schools.
“The annual Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind,” reads the Orange Shirt Society’s website.
“A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.”
For the past few years, a march and speeches have taken place in Squamish on Sept. 30 offering an opportunity where that discussion can begin to take place.
Note: While the commemorative day is a day of reflection and learning for some, the effects of the trauma still linger for many and reading about these experiences may be triggering for some. If you need help, there is a 24-hour phone line set up by The Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066 or 1-866-925-4419. You can also view other services the society has at irsss.ca.
@squamishchief Hundreds marched in Squamish for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. #squamishchief #ndtr #nationaldayfortruthandreconciliation #squamishnation #squamishnation2023 ♬ original sound - Squamish Chief