Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thoughts on Orange Shirt Day

Orange shirt day.

And I don't have an orange shirt. So here are some orange berries.


Today was the first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to remember and honour the children who died, and those who survived the residential schools for Canada's indigenous people. I got up this morning and wrote a remembrance. And then doubted all day; my piece seemed too casual, too accepting. Who am I, not one of the First Nations people, to dare to speak for them?

Sure, I grew up with the knowledge of the residential schools, of the suffering and loss, of the abuse and injustice perpetrated in them. I saw it in my neighbours and friends, in my housemates, in my own family. (Mom had spent years in an abusive boarding school, but not because of her race, so she was spared that extra depth of grief.) I heard their stories.

But it was secondhand for me. And while I still felt the pain, the anger, still do to this day, I will never comprehend the full extent of the trauma these families endured. I didn't know, back then, of the deaths, of the unmarked graves. The families of these children who never came home again knew. They knew.

So, no, I cannot speak for them. I can only say I grieve with them, rage with them, and hope, demand that somehow we as a nation can begin to heal the hurt.

I am sorry, Georgina, Josephine. I am sorry, Ginger. George. Marguerite, Leonora. The unnamed faces in my photo album. I am sorry. I cry for you, with you.


  1. Thanks for writing about that. Our office brought in a first nations musician who shared about her experiences. I'm glad that we have a day to reflect and learn about the pain that afflicts people to this day.

  2. We constantly hear mealy-mouthed platitudes on a similar horror in Australia. Children, too young to have forged a bond beyond that of family.


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