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Orange Shirt Day: A Time to Reflect on Canada’s Dark Past & Hope for a Better Future

By Caroline M., Halton Youth Initiative Youth Volunteer

September 28, 2020

“It is not ‘forgive and forget’ as if nothing ever happened, but ‘forgive and go forward,’ building on the mistakes of the past and the energy generated by reconciliation to create a new future.” ~Alan Paton

Every year on September 30th we come together to recognize and honour the survivors of

residential schools in unification by wearing an orange shirt. Young Phyllis Webstad's orange

shirt was striped from her when she entered the doors of the place that caused great pain and

degradation to her and many other Indigenous children. She was forced to give up the only

thing that reminded her of her true home and made her feel safe, in this new, scary place.

Therefore, we wear an orange shirt to recognize and remember the lives that were and still are negatively impacted by residential schools. This day also contributes to the path to reconciliation and harmonization with Indigenous peoples in Canada. This year the youth from the Halton Youth Initiative (HYI) worked collectively to put together a video in order to educate ourselves, spread awareness, recognize the pain endured and start our reconciliation journey.

We hope that this video will help people see the negative impact and effects of residential schools. We hope it will allow people to see the importance of their own reconciliation journey with Indigenous people. In entirety, we hope that this video will be the beginning of many people's journeys to be open to learning and taking action in order to support the reconciliation of this part of Canada’s dark past. It is important that we remember the lives affected and reunite with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, especially for the younger generations of Indigenous and non-indigenous youth to have better connection with, and trust and appreciation for each other.

What our other HYI youth have to say.

“To me, reconciliation means maintaining and initiating a mutually respectful and inspiring relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous people. Even though we do not share the same exact cultural background and custom, we can still learn to appreciate each other.” ~Anne (Grade 12)

“I was born and raised in a country where freedom of expression is limited and the government acts more as a dictatorship rather than a democracy. I know that if my people suffered in the same way that Indigenous peoples in Canada have, I would want others to advocate and support my people too.” -Romina (Grade 11)

“I was truly horrified and heartbroken with all the injustice that First Nations children had to face.” ~Nishita (Grade 10)

“It is important to build trust before truth because trust is the source of all good relationships.” ~Melissa (Grade 10)


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