September 30th marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, honouring the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. It is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
The objective of this fairly new day of observance, now in its second year, is to encourage Canadians to take time to learn more about Reconciliation, and to reflect on the real histories and ongoing impacts of colonization, the effects of which continue to be felt today. It is an opportunity to commemorate the survivors, their families, and their communities.
On September 30, as we mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we also encourage all Canadians to wear orange to honour the thousands who survived the Residential Schools, those children who did not return home, and those who continue to suffer as a result of intergenerational trauma.
Granville Island will be demonstrating our commitment to reconciliation in honouring our Indigenous Peoples by observing a moment of silence at 2:15 pm in recognition of the 215 children whose bodies were uncovered in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the former Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia. The lights, in the shape of a heartbeat, on the Arts & Innovation Hub (former Emily Carr School) will be turned orange, and all outdoor advertising spaces will be covered and replaced with a special commemorative poster, with original “Every Child Matters” artwork.”
The tenants on Granville Island are demonstrating their commitment as well:
Wickanninish in the Net Loft, an Indigenous owned and operated store, is selling orange shirts, with proceeds going to survivors of Residential Schools. Make Vancouver collaborated with Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) in printing and selling orange shirts, with 100 percent of the profits going to the organization. The artwork for the shirts was donated by KC Hall and features an eagle and the slogan “Every Child Matters”. KC also painted a mural in the covered parking lot behind Alimentaria in 2018; you can find more about that here. Frozen River, a play presented by Carousel Theatre, will be opening on September 30. It is the story of two girls born at the same time in different places, how they meet, and what can be done to fix broken promises. Carousel is also holding Indigenous themed workshops and presentations from September 30 – October 14. You can learn more about those here.
Arts Umbrella is also making a splash with their support: last week, invitations were sent out to stakeholders and family for Friday’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and the response was overwhelming. They sold out of t-shirts within hours, the art of which was designed by Indigenous artist James Harry, and all lectures filled up beyond capacity. James Harry, whose father Xwalactun carved the salmon on the poles of Ocean Artworks, has a mural on Granville Island as well. You can read more here. Joleen Mitton, founder of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week and co-owner of Super Naturals Modelling, and designer Yolonda Skelton will be doing a mini-fashion show. While these lectures and workshops are currently at capacity, Arts Umbrella is also open to the public for drop-in events from 10am to 3pm, including tea and Bannock by Raven and Hummingbird Tea Co., books available for purchase from Massy Books, and hat weaving demonstrations by Rita the Hat Weaver.
Come back here for further updates to programming and activities marking the 2nd National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and Orange Shirt Day.