The date fast approaches where Williams Lake students and community members will once more honour Orange Shirt Day in Boitanio Park.
This annual Remembrance Day style event is held every year to recognize and remember the historical injustices of Residental Schools and their persistent impacts to this day. Originating here in Williams Lake it’s since spread across the province and even across the country inspiring Bill C-369 that, should it pass the senate, will turn Sept. 30 officially into a statutory holiday called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
As in previous years, busloads of lakecity students from across B.C. will gather at Boitanio park at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 30 to hear stories from survivors like the author of The Orange Shirt Story Phyllis Webstad and speeches from local community leaders. At the event’s conclusion, a drum circle will be held involving many of the students.
This year the newly formed Orange Shirt Society (OSS) is doing something a little different in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia. They’ll be launching and testing the Paths to Reconciliation Project, which arose from the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report four years ago.
The Paths to Reconciliation project is designed to take students to a deeper level of learning about the history, legacy and impacts of Indian residential schools. It aims to go beyond the agreed facts of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement while taking into account the stories of survivors of a broad range of experiences related to residential schools and the colonial legacy left in the wake of this wide-reaching system.
Jerome Beauchamp, president of the OSS, will host the launch of the Paths to Reconciliation project in Williams Lake on Monday at the Orange Shirt Day commemoration ceremony. The launch of the Paths to Reconciliation project is also taking place in Ottawa, and in Vancouver at the same time. This tri-location launch will kick off a cross-Canada tour to 24 Indigenous and non-Indigenous schools to stimulate discussion and understanding about reconciliation.
The Paths to Reconciliation project is funded by the Government of Canada and affirms its commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians.
Read More: EDITORIAL: Orange Shirt Day matters
The speaker list for the event is as follows:
Jerome Beauchamp, President of the Orange Shirt Society – Master of Ceremonies
Chief Willie Sellars – Welcome to the Secwepemc Traditional Territory
Virginia Gilbert – Opening prayer and song
Sandy Carifelle, to sing Stand Up Proud
Donna Barnett, MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding
Margo Wagner, Chair of the Cariboo Regional District
WL Jason Ryll, Acting Mayor of Williams Lake
Chris van der Mark, Superintendent of School District #27
Chief Fred Robbins – 2019 Residential Survivor Story
Phyllis Webstad – Executive Director, Founder of Orange Shirt Society
Tim Joyce, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Canadian Geographic Enterprises
Students of Dog Creek Elementary/ Junior Secondary School