WINNIPEG – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief, Garrison Settee, issued the following statement on the occasion of the 5th annual Orange Shirt Day and in recognition of the living and deceased former students of the Indian Residential Schools:
“Orange Shirt Day 2018 is especially solemn and meaningful for me as I attend the funeral of a former IRS student and former Chief of York Factory First Nation, Chief Roy Redhead. September 30th marks the 5th anniversary of Orange Short Day. On September 30th and every day, the MKO honours the living former Indian Residential Schools (IRS) students, as well as the ones who have passed on following their IRS experience, and those who did not make it home while students at one of the 139 recognized IRS schools across Canada. Across MKO territory every year, there are fewer and fewer former IRS students, and it is important to continue to support those who remain and help and assist them as much as we can on their healing journey. The vast majority of the remaining former IRS students across MKO territory and elsewhere remain poor and destitute, while there are others, including, lawyers, consultants, and bureaucrats, who continue to benefit from the largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history.
There are still injustices and political advocacy associated with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRRSA). However, the MKO takes this opportunity to acknowledge the former IRS students for their traumatic experiences, as well as for their resiliency, courage, and strength. The former students, in spite of their IRS experience, continue to form the foundation of the MKO communities and continue to inspire the leadership, all community members, and Canadians. The MKO is resolved to continue the fight for justice on their behalf, and on behalf of their family members who continue to struggle with the intergenerational effects of the IRS policy.”
The enabling legislation for the IRS policy can be found in the 1876 Indian Act and subsequent amendments. Although not enforced, the clauses making IRS attendance mandatory continue to be included in the Indian Act.