National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sun West recognizes that September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. Formerly known as Orange Shirt Day, it ensures that the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten. It commemorates and remembers the experiences of Indigenous children who were part of Canada’s Indian Residential School System.

In 2023, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation fell on a Saturday and due to this, Sun West schools held truth and reconciliation events during the week of September 24-30.

The following video was recorded by Phoebe and Mary Rabbitskin, who are Grade 9 students at Westcliffe Composite School in Marengo. They speak about the significance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The video below featured pictures from some of the Sun West school events that took place throughout the week of September 25-30, 2023.

Indian Residential Schools in Canada

Over 130 Residential Schools operated in Canada between 1831 and 1996. In that period over 150,000 children attended Residential Schools. These schools removed children from their parents and communities with the purpose of assimilating them into Canadian culture.

Thousands died either at these schools, or because of their experiences at the schools. Many remain missing. Children were forcibly removed from their homes and separated from their parents at a young age. They were forbidden to wear traditional clothing or participate in their own culture and abuse was common at these schools.

Information from the Canadian Encyclopedia. Click here to read the full article.

This year there have been confirmations of the graves of hundreds of children at the sites of former residential schools including here in Saskatchewan. Click here to learn more about these graves.

Wear orange

Orange has become the colour associated with remembering and commemorating the victims of residential schools. The reason orange is worn for this purpose is based on the experience of one survivor the Indian Residential School System. The video below tells her story.

On September 30 we wear orange to:

  • Show that every child matters.
  • To honour the children who survived Indian Residential Schools.
  • To remember the children who did not survive Indian Residential Schools.
  • To support reconciliation.

September 30 does not always fall on a school day, so Sun West encourages all its students and staff to wear orange the week of September 30 in keeping with Call to Action 63 of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states:

We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Indigenous education issues, including:

  • Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.
  • Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.
  • Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
  • Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

Click here for more information on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report on Residential Schools.