The first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day is Canada’s newest federal statutory holiday, it is a day meant to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.
It is also meant to serve as a public commemoration of the legacy of residential schools, the creation of this day was made through a bill in Parliament, Bill C-5, which received Royal Assent on June 3.
Premier Joe Savikataaq wrote a brief statement saying Sept. 30 is “about listening, learning, growing, working and committing to better.”
In a joint statement, Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of Parks Canada and environment and climate change Canada, David Lametti, minister of justice/attorney general, Steven Guilbeault, minister of Canadian heritage, Dan Vandal, minister of northern affairs and Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services said, that on this day, “all Canadians have the opportunity to come together to ensure that we commemorate the history and recognize the harmful legacy of residential schools.
“Residential schools are a shameful part of damaging racist and colonial policies that removed First Nations, Inuit and Metis children from their communities families, languages and cultures,” the statement read.
On Wednesday afternoon, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) organized a Sept. 30 walk in the capital, walking from the Igluvut Building to Iqaluit Square. At 1:30 there was a moment of silence and soon after the walk began, with Iqalummiut donning orange shirts in commemoration of the stolen Indigenous children who never found their way back home.
“It’s incredible to see such a large sea of orange. We really appreciate how important this day is, it’s the inaugural day of Truth and Reconciliation. We all have been affected, all of us, whether we’ve been to residential school, whether our parents have been to residential school, whether our grandparents have been to residential school. Each and everyone of us has been impacted,” said Aluki Kotierk, president of NTI.
The event saw around 500 people, many of whom were wearing orange shirts, join in the walk - one of the biggest gatherings in Iqaluit this year.
There were 14 residential schools in what is now Nunavut, operating from 1955 to 1995.