Events Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 29 and 30), in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, will transform locations across Greater Victoria with a sea of orange as organizers work to raise awareness about residential schools and the sacrifices made by survivors and their families.
Camosun College will host identical charity-based events at both of their campuses on the theme of hearts and hands, which be facilitated by the college’s Indigenous education and community connections team. Participants will be invited to create “love baskets” to be delivered to residential school survivors.
The events will take place on Camosun’s Landsdowne and Interurban campuses on Wednesday between 1 and 3 p.m., as both will be closed on the official day, Sept. 30.
Carey Newman, renowned Kwakwaka’wakw/Salish artist and University of Victoria impact chair in Indigenous art practises, will attend the Interurban event to talk about the campaign and design of a new pin and t-shirt. All proceeds from slaes of the pins and shirts go towards The Orange Shirt Society and its mission to support residential school reconciliation, while creating awareness of its intergenerational impacts – as well as the establishment of a new Orange Shirt Award at Camosun College.
The University of Victoria plans to host a cultural presentation in front of the McPherson Library on Sept. 29, preceded by a territorial welcome, opening prayer and remarks from their Indigenous associate vice-president Qwul’sih’yah’maht Robina Thomas, university chancellor Shelagh Rogers, and university president Kevin Hall.
On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation itself, Sept. 30, the City of Colwood will host a gathering in honour of Na’tsa’maht (Salish for “working together as one”) at Royal Beach Park between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It will include speeches from local First Nations chiefs, along with stories, traditional songs, drumming, dance, art and paddling.
Orange Shirt Day was the creation of Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation member Phyllis Webstad in 2013. It has grown to include local chapters across Canada, all with the goal of raising awareness and supporting healing.
In Victoria, the public is invited to wear orange and attend the Xe xe Smun eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony on Sept. 30 in Centennial Square. Xe xe Smun eem (pronounced shat shat smun am) means sacred children in the Cowichan or Quw utsun language.
Event organizers Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray will speak to the importance of raising awareness about residential schools as a way of honouring the more than 4,000 children who died, and the sacrifices made by 150,000 residential school survivors and their families across Canada.
The ceremony is free and runs from noon to 2:30 p.m., rain or shine. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be livestreamed at facebook.com/CityofVictoriaPage.
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