The final Truth and Reconciliation report urges the government to “establish, as a legal holiday, a National Truth and Reconciliation Day to honor survivors, their families and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and the legacy of residential schools a vital component of the reconciliation process. “
Thursday is the first celebration of the day here in Mi’kma’ki, a day created, as it says, to honor and remember. It is a day that goes beyond the orange shirt you may be wearing today, a day to expose in public the horrors of the indigenous genocide, without apology.
The residential school system caused absolute harm to Indigenous children for more than a century in Canada, with the last one closed in 1996. The harm still exists today in our communities and the survivors still exist today.
Permanent Tribute Planned for Kamloops Residential School
A day to honor the legacy of the survivors is the least we can do to move forward together. Here at Mi’kma’ki, we have a lot to do before Truth and Reconciliation can actually happen. This day should not consist of having a day off just for the sake of having a day off. It should be about the settlers actively learning about the atrocities committed within the walls of these institutions.
There are many great resources for learning about the legacy of residential schools. Your first start should be the Final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It gives you first-hand information, concise and unapologetic.
As the son of a residential school survivor, I grew up listening to my mother’s experiences only when there was a lesson to be learned from her. Survivor accounts are valuable beyond words; it’s your lived experiences of a system that took so long and should never have existed. The experiences my mother shared were horrible and something no child should go through. Her experiences and later life shaped who she was and who I am today.
“ They want us to remind everyone of what happened, ” says a survivor from a BC residential school
I realized the horrors of residential school at a young age, which is commonplace for indigenous people throughout this country. For the most part, residential schools were quickly forgotten by the general public, an event in our “distant past.”
With only about nine of the 94 calls to action implemented from the TRC, it is clear that we have a lot of work to do on the road to reconciliation. That path that does not have to be long, it is a path that begins at home, with your family, your friends and the people you know.
The conversations should take place long after the orange shirt is back in the drawer for another year. These conversations are vital to learning the truth, which can be adapted to age-appropriate content for younger children. It cannot be emphasized enough to go any further by using and sharing content about residential schools that are written and produced by indigenous authors and artists. Our history is best transmitted by indigenous peoples.
New Brunswick will not have Truth and Reconciliation holiday on Sept. 30: premier
Thursday is the beginning of a movement in our country. Let’s keep that momentum going throughout the year. September 30 is a day to learn about residential schools. It should be a difficult day and an uncomfortable day for the settlers who challenge you. It should challenge you to change the way you think about indigenous issues, to hold our elected officials accountable for their inaction, and to make a difference for the next generation, because they are our future.
The ugly truth is that indigenous children were killed to achieve the assimilation and submission of an entire race. We must honor his legacy; we must learn from them, so that this does not happen again. Their voices are now heard from sea to sea to sea. Let’s listen to them.
Artist to carve permanent memorial for children at Kamloops residential school
I, as a Mi’kmaw person, know the importance of reminding children that they did not return home. All my life I listened to the stories of my family. On Thursday, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people of this land will reflect on the legacy of the residential school system and the continuing impact it has today and will have for generations to come.
We still have a lot of work to do regarding systemic racism, the Indigenous housing crisis, the continued theft of land, and the unprecedented incarceration and police harassment of Indigenous peoples.
Therefore, having a “statistical vacation” that is not recognized in all provinces is the minimum to start with. Can we do better? Yes.
Therefore, I challenge the readers of this book to begin a journey of self-education so that the truth can be fully understood. This day is a day of reflection, of mourning and a day to remember. Msit No’kmaq.
Bryson Syliboy is from the Sipekne’katik First Nation and now lives in Tui’knek (Port Hawkesbury). He is the son of a survivor of a residential school. Bryson is a grassroots Mi’kmaw activist reconnecting with his culture and language. He is passionate about politics, environmental issues, and anti-racism education.