Message from Prairie Mountain Health CEO, Brian Schoonbaert
National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a day to witness, recognize and honour Indigenous victims and survivors of the tragic and ongoing history of the residential school legacy and inform further action in the spirit of reconciliation.
We remain committed to learning, listening, healing and continued collaborative efforts with our Indigenous leaders, partners and individual stakeholders as we take steps to move the path forward. All Manitobans, including those working across our vast health system, are encouraged to learn about and participate in activities that reflect upon and recognize the impact of residential schools on the lived experience and shared history of Manitoba’s Indigenous people.
I ask you to seek out informative pieces on the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and the history of Orange Shirt Day. I also encourage you to participate in events and activities taking place in your community. These moments of education and reflection are important to everyone.
May we continue to learn, understand, and honour the truth and history of the Indigenous peoples in our collective journey towards Truth and Reconciliation.
Origin of Orange Shirt Day
Phyllis Webstad was only 6 years old when she was sent to St Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential school in British Columbia. Her grandmother had taken her to the store and bought her a brand new orange shirt to wear to school. Phyllis was proud of her new orange shirt but when she arrived, she was stripped of her clothing and never saw her orange shirt again. She was neglected, abused, and made to feel like she did not matter. Phyllis recalled that every child cried to go home, but nobody cared. Fortunately, Phyllis was able to return home to her grandmother. As she became an adult, she said that the colour Orange reminded her of that time in her life. She later used her story as a platform to raise awareness to Orange Shirt Day and “That Every Child Matters.”
Phyllis’ story is a difficult one to hear, but has helped to raise awareness to the legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential school system and the impacts to survivors like Phyllis and their families. Read her full story here.
Wear an Orange Shirt on Friday, September 30 - the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Events Around the Region
Mental health supports available
Former residential school students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.
Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention.