Thunder Bay – NEWS – 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.
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Executive Council will honour Indian Residential School Survivors, their families, and all the children who didn’t return home during Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events in Thunder Bay and Ottawa on Thursday.
Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater and Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse will attend Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance event. Hosted by the Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada, it will begin at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies at Parliament Hill followed by a Spirt Walk to Confederation Park. They will join with Residential School Survivors from across NAN territory, including members of the St. Anne’s Residential School Survivor’s Peetabeck Keway Keykaywin Association, who are organizing a teepee and pipe ceremony.
Deputy Grand Chiefs Linklater and Narcisse will also visit the Beechwood National Memorial Center’s Sacred Space for the first public display of 57,000 tiles made by youth from across Canada to honour those who attended residential schools as part of the Project of Heart education program.
Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum will join with Survivors, their families, and members of the public for NAN’s Orange Shirt Day commemoration on the grounds of Pope John Paul II Senior Elementary School at 11 a.m. A teepee has been erected and a Sacred Fire will burn until September 30. Anyone wishing to enter the teepee is required to follow public health guidelines and wear a face mask.
NAN’s interactive community-building display from the Wake the Giant festival will be on display while the Sacred Fire burns. This 16-panel display highlights Treaty relationships and dispels common myths and misconceptions about Indigenous Peoples.