September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day for all settlers to honour the Indigenous children forced into residential schools, causing unimaginable trauma to themselves, their families, and their communities. Tragically, so very many children died because of residential schools.
As well as a day dedicated to learning about Truth and Reconciliation, it is also Orange Shirt Day, which commemorates Phyllis Webstad’s story about losing her precious orange shirt on her first day at residential school.
As non-Indigenous people, it is important for us to learn about the effects of residential schools on every aspect of Indigenous life today; how multi-generational community trauma continues to affect each generation following.
Opportunities for Learning
What can settlers do to learn more about this dark era in Canadian history that continues to haunt us today?
Visit the Roundhouse for the At the Centre of Community: An Exhibition of Indigenous Cultural Practices.
The Roundhouse has printed a large poster of the Calls to Action. You can find it hanging in the main foyer at adult eye-height for easy reading. You can also take away a printout, available beside the poster.
WINDOW Gallery, in the Roundhouse foyer, features the poetry of Wil George. His poetry often features the natural environment, Wolf and Raven from traditional Salish stories in modern settings, and addressing contemporary issues. Wil was the 2017 recipient of the Mayor’s award for emerging artist in Literary Arts.
Visit the Roundhouse’s permanent exhibit, Framing History: Indigenous Art at the Roundhouse. Artworks: The Ripple Effect by Jordan Gallie, Framing History by Debra Sparrow, and Scháyilhen by Xuuyaah (1951-2019). Curator: Kamala Todd.
Read Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and understand the 94 Calls to Action
Follow Carnegie’s V6Activities YouTube channel to learn Indigenous crafts and listen to stories from Elders
Learn how to pronounce šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza and the Vancouver Art Gallery north plaza)
A five-minute overview video by Historica Canada – Residential Schools in Canada: a timeline
My Name is Seepeetza by Nlaka’pamux author Shirley Stirling, based on her childhood experiences at the Kamloops Indian Residential School
Behind Closed Doors: Stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School (Download the free PDF) featuring written testimonials from 32 individuals who attended Kamloops Indian Residential School
Where are the Children buried?, a report by Dr. Scott Hamilton, Dept. of Anthropology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay
Image is a detail from Jimmy Joseph’s West Coast Community Panel Project featured at the At the Centre of Community: An Exhibition of Indigenous Cultural Practices at the Roundhouse from Sep 23 to Oct 1.
The Roundhouse is open on Fri Sep 30, 9am-10pm.