WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government is encouraging Manitobans to learn about the legacy of residential schools as it recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation today.
In 2017, Manitoba passed legislation to formally recognize September 30 as Orange Shirt Day to encourage discussion about the trauma of residential schools. But this year, the provincial government also recognized September 30 as a day of observance after the federal statutory holiday was announced in June.
In a joint statement, Premier Kelvin Goertzen and Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere say the events observed today are important steps toward remembering residential school experiences, honouring the process of healing for survivors, and efforts to further the process of reconciliation.
“We all have a role to play in the reconciliation and healing process for Indigenous peoples who have suffered the physical and emotional trauma of the residential school system,” Lagimodiere says, noting that the discoveries of unmarked graves on the grounds of residential schools across Canada make today even more significant.
Flags on all provincial government buildings will be lowered today to half-mast, and at sunset, the Legislative Building will be lit up with an orange Every Child Matters graphic to honour the children who never returned home. The graphic was designed in partnership with non-profit advocacy organization Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.
Orange Shirt Day was first observed in 2013, when Phyllis Webstad told the story of her first day at a residential school. She was six years old in 1973, and was excited to be wearing new clothes and attending school for the first time. But someone at the school ripped away her shiny new orange shirt. Webstad’s organization, the Orange Shirt Society, continues to raise awareness about the history of residential schools in Canada.