Approximately 30 people showed up today at George Little Park in Terrace in support of Orange Shirt Day.
Each year, orange shirts are worn on Sept. 30 to raise awareness of the residential school experiences that thousands of First Nations endured, and to embody hope for a better future ahead.
“It’s a moment in time that was so detrimental for our people to acknowledge what happened and not all of us are there yet, including me,” says Lynn Parker, Kermode cultural sensitivity and decolonization worker and Kitselas counsellor. “This is what we live through every day, this is how we reconcile our yesterdays to today.”
The last residential school closed in 1996 and it’s estimated that approximately 150,000 children were sent away to residential schools throughout 150 years, which has caused intergenerational trauma for a lot of families. By holding a public gathering, Parker says it provides those families and survivors with hope to move past the pain.
“The ones that came out today will show that we are here, that we have walked through the darkness, the dark times of history,” she says. “We wish for more people to come and want to learn about it, just to take that stigma away and be proud of where we are today.”
Many schools across Terrace also took part, which Parker says she’s happy to see happening in the community as it’s important that more people in Canada know more about this chapter of history.
“It’s not just what the government took as a culture from us, or our language and our rightful place in Canada but also our innocence — the innocence of the children,” Parker says. “To know that we’re in a place today that we can raise our children innocent, and in our rightful place where they don’t have to worry about all those things they did in residential schools.”
She adds next year, she plans to hold a bigger event in Terrace to encourage more people to participate in their moment of silence and reflection to help Orange Shirt Day become a nationally recognized day.