Thursday is Orange Shirt Day, a day to “commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honor the healing journey of survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.”
Earlier this year, the federal government recognized this day as a legal holiday to give Canadians a chance to pause and reflect, cry, and move forward with truth and reconciliation. This recognition is important and long awaited. It is not enough either. We need to go beyond the symbols on orange T-shirts and memorial days and take concrete action.
The last months it has been difficult by Canadians have come face to face with a gruesome truth: Canada’s horrible secret about the extent of trauma experienced by indigenous children in residential schools. More than 150,000 indigenous children were subjected to these horrible institutions. While the stories shared by so many indigenous peoples and the important work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission apparently failed to move Canadians, the cold and harsh evidence of ground-penetrating radars and mass graves has finally been found. open path. Many wonder, “Why didn’t I know?” And what can I do?”
While each of us must answer these questions for ourselves, we can offer some of our own insights, as mothers and leaders of a Canadian innovation platform.
For one of us, the legacy and trauma of residential schools has been a lived reality since birth, impacting me, my family, and my community in all aspects of our lives.
On the other hand, it wasn’t until three years ago when our team participated in the Kairos blanket exercise that the horror inflicted on indigenous children in church and government run residential schools began. I was pregnant with my youngest son at the time. and the thought of losing even one of my babies brought me to my knees in such pain that the loss of generations of children was literally beyond my imagination.
From our different backgrounds, we have both recognized the need to go beyond pain and memory to contribute to the critical work of healing and reconciliation, without ever losing sight of the truth.
One way we demonstrate our commitment to action and change is through our work at the Indigenous Innovation Initiative, organized by Grand Challenges Canada. We support innovation with social impact by and for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities.
Last year, thanks to initial funding from the federal government, we have committed more than $ 2.7 million to fund 10 women and leaders with gender diversity. His innovations are creating environmentally sustainable consumer packaging; teach young people skills to work in advanced air mobility; design a digital health app to improve pregnancy outcomes; and the construction of a social enterprise to help people with lived experience prevent further sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of indigenous women, girls, and peoples with gender diversity. Ten projects, all hiring indigenous employees, helping the earth and building communities.
More generally, there is a new generation of indigenous peoples, steeped in their own culture, who are leading this journey of healing and reconciliation. Indigenous companies have shown how to act as agents of change by giving back to their communities and working to protect land and water. However, indigenous peoples cannot do this work alone.
Orange Shirt Day reminds us that all Canadians have a role to play, and politicians, corporations and foundations have an especially critical role to play in breaking down persistent barriers to access to resources and unleashing innovative, self-determined solutions that they will be the change.
We need to move ESG investment frameworks, using environmental, social and governance criteria and commitments, towards an IESG perspective, adding indigenous people as a powerful independent engine of reconciliation and as an integral part of Canadian and global ESG mandates. More spacious. Orange Shirt Day should be more than a time for Canadians to reflect on how we have benefited from colonization and the horrors of the past; It must be a rallying cry to take concrete action.
Despite our contrasting realities of life in Canada, we stand united in solidarity. On September 30, we will both wear our orange jerseys with pride as a shared commitment to channel our reflection, shock and anger into action. We invite you, whether you are a wealthy individual, a corporate leader, or a newly elected member of Parliament, to also take action by walking alongside and supporting indigenous innovators and change agents. Reconciliation requires nothing less.