Every Child Matters – Healing Walk 2016

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Every Child Matters

Every Child MattersTHUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum was joined by First Nation leaders, municipal officials and educators for the Every Child Matters “Walk for Healing” Indian Residential School Awareness Walk to the site of St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School during NAN’s third-annual Orange Shirt Day.

“This walk is to honour our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents especially those that did not return from Indian Residential Schools,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “These events are vital and must continue. This horrific truth of Canadian history must be told.”

Orange Shirt Day gets walking in Thunder Bay.
Orange Shirt Day 2015 gets walking in Thunder Bay.

Participants walked from City Hall to the former site of the St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School, the current location of Pope John Paul II Elementary School, where a traditional ceremony and blessing was held.

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy project of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events held in Williams Lake, British Columbia in 2013. Now an annual event, it is named for Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, whose shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year-old girl on her first day at Residential School.

There are six documented cases of First Nations children who died while attending the St. Joseph’s school and 16 children are still unaccounted for. At least 4,000 children died in more than 150 Residential Schools that operated across Canada for 150 years. Approximately 5,000 NAN members attended Residential Schools.