Indigenous

Greater Victoria events mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sept. 30 honours those who died in residential schools, and the families and communities affected by the system's legacy

By Jolene Rudisuela
September 29, 2021
Indigenous

Greater Victoria events mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sept. 30 honours those who died in residential schools, and the families and communities affected by the system's legacy

Photo: Colin Smith
Indigenous

Greater Victoria events mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sept. 30 honours those who died in residential schools, and the families and communities affected by the system's legacy

By Jolene Rudisuela
September 29, 2021
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Greater Victoria events mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Photo: Colin Smith

The inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is Sept. 30. It’s intended to honour and remember those who lost their lives at residential schools and the survivors and families who continue to experience trauma related to our colonial past. 

Across Greater Victoria, there are a number of events happening to commemorate the day, where you can learn about the horrors of residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to actions, and reconciliation. We have also compiled a list of resources to learn more. And if you’re looking to purchase a locally designed orange shirt, find a list of locations carrying them here.  

Support is available to those affected by the continued impact of residential schools. For 24/7 support please call 1-800-721-0066.

Events in Victoria

National Reconciliation Day Ride

Victoria city hall
10am-12pm

Beginning at Victoria city hall and ending at Centennial Square, this family-friendly, slow-paced ride will take participants on a journey to places of historical and cultural significance to lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples. UVic’s cultural protocol liaison Diane Sam will speak about the history at each stop. Riders are encouraged to wear orange shirts. 

Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony 

Centennial Square
12-2:30pm

This annual event, organized by Kristin Spray and residential school survivor Eddy Charlie, will once again take place in Centennial Square. The ceremony will begin with a blessing of the land and welcome, and raising of the Orange Shirt Day flag to half mast, followed by a moment of silence to honour those who did not survive residential schools. Indigenous and non-Indigenous performances will be featured, and Indigenous guest speakers will discuss their experiences with residential schools and reconciliation. Participants are encouraged to wear an orange shirt, and masks are recommended. 

If you are unable to attend in person, the event will be live streamed on the City of Victoria’s Facebook page

Victoria nətsəmat Gathering 

Victoria Inner Harbour Causeway
2-4:30pm

Members of the public are invited to gather at Protocol Corner at Victoria Inner Harbour (the southeast corner) to witness canoe protocol as Songhees and Esquimalt leaders welcome youth to lək̓ʷəŋən lands. A procession will follow to Explore Songhees Kiosk at Ship Point, where 215 seconds of silence will be observed, as well as remarks, stories, and a dance performance.

Bannock and orange shirts can be purchased here, and proceeds to will go to programs supporting lək̓ʷəŋən youth whose families live with intergenerational trauma from residential schools. 

Open House at Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Art Gallery or Greater Victoria
12-5pm

The gallery will be open for free, to give everyone a chance to see current exhibitions, including the Indigenous-led Holding Ground exhibition which looks at the history of Indigenous resistance. A facilitator will also be on site to discuss the Emily Carr: Seeing and Being Seen exhibition and how the art portrays local Indigenous sites, appropriation, and the environmental impact of resource extraction.

Honour Children and Survivors: Oak Bay

Sno'uyutth Welcome Pole in front of Oak Bay High School
10-11am

ReconciliACTION Oak Bay, a group of Oak Bay organizations, is hosting an event to honour residential school survivors, their families, and those who didn’t make it home. Members of the Songhees Nation will be present to witness and share their wisdom. 

Documentary screening: Making the Witness Blanket

Canadian College of Performing Arts
Oct. 1 from 7-9pm

On Oct. 1, ReconciliACTION is hosting a screening of Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket, the story of Indigenous artist Carey Newman’s wall-sized monument detailing the experiences of residential school survivors and their families. Tickets are $12.50, and all proceeds will support the UVic Elders Engagement Fund and the Witness Blanket Legacy Fund at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights where the Witness Blanket is on display. 

Lecture: James Teit: Indigenous Rights Activist, 1900-1922

Emily Carr House
12-1pm

Dr. Wendy Wickwire will be speaking about activist James Teit who worked with Indigenous leaders in the 20th century to resolve the “BC Indian Land Question,” conscription, and the Potlatch Ban. The talk will be outside in the garden (weather permitting), so guests are asked to bring a chair, though some seating will be available. After the lecture, the Carr House will be open. Entry by donation; all proceeds will be donated to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Livestream: Orange Shirt Day at UVic

Online

The University of Victoria held three events on Wednesday, with speakers including associate vice-president, Indigenous Qwul’sih’yah’maht Robina Thomas, residential school survivor Mark Atleo, and university chancellor Shelagh Rogers. If you missed these events, you can watch the livestreams here


Events in the Westshore

Orange Shirt Day in Sooke

Evergreen Mall
11am

In Sooke, the public is invited to gather at the information kiosk at Evergreen Mall. Attendees are asked to wear orange shirts and face masks, and they may bring drums. Organizers are also encouraging you to commit to at least one action—see this form

Colwood nətsəmat Gathering 

Royal Beach Park on Metchosin Road at Latoria Boulevard
10am-4pm

The gathering will start with a welcome to the land and remarks from local chiefs and other dignitaries. The day will include stories, traditional songs, drumming, dancing, art, paddling, and food. There will also be activities to create connections and build community.


Resources

Truth and Reconciliation Week with the NCTR

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) has had virtual events going all week, including two events on Sept. 30. Phyllis Westad, the founder of Orange Shirt Day, will be speaking at 8:30am PT, in a talk entitled Beyond Orange Shirt Day. On Oct. 1, Kwakwaka’wakw/Coast Salish artist Carey Newman will be speaking about the Witness Blanket, a national monument he created to recognize the atrocities of residential schools. 

A full schedule of events this week is available here, as well as links to videos of past talks and events.

A one-hour, commercial-free primetime special will also be broadcast on APTN, CBC, CBC Gem, and ICI TÉLÉ at 5pm PT.

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Resources for Settlers

For settlers who are interested in being better allies to Indigenous Peoples, the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council has put together a page of resources to help. Important first steps include finding out what Indigenous territory you live and work on, how to do a territorial acknowledgement, and how to pronounce the names of the First Nations and the languages they speak. The council has also created a reading list of educational resources, and a list of local organizations to donate to. 

First Peoples’ Map of BC

The online First Peoples’ Map, created by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, depicts interactive information on languages, cultural heritage, and art from each of the 204 First Nations communities and language regions in British Columbia. It’s the most intuitively designed and in-depth project of its kind, building off previous arts and language maps created by the FPCC to educate on and revitalize Indigenous cultures. It includes audio clips of the pronunciations of First Nations, different languages, and important cultural sites. 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

In 2015, the commission published its final report detailing the impacts of the residential school system and the experiences of those who were forced to attend. The testimonies of over 6,000 survivors were recorded to create a record and show the consequences of the colonial system. The TRC created 94 calls to action to address the ongoing impact of residential schools on survivors and their families, and to work towards reconciliation. 

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Greater Victoria events mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation