Yin Sau Lau/Staff reporter

The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was marked on Thursday, September 30, 2021, to commemorate the children who died while attending residential and day schools.

The residential school system caused many children to death. The potential burial sites of children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops were discovered, B.C. The searching of dead children at residential schools is continuing, according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, 4,118 children who died at residential schools are documented until now.

The Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says the objective of this national day is to create a chance for Canadians to learn about and reflect on a dark chapter in their country’s history and to commemorate the survivors, their families, and their communities, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous leaders.

“I have never heard about the stories of the children who died in the residential schools before this day, it was really sad that children are treated unfairly.” Suki Chan, an international student who has come to Canada for half a year said.

The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is also known as Orange Shirt Day. The Orange Shirt Day started on September 30, 2013, the day when Phyllis Webstad spoke out about her experience in St. Joseph’s Residential School. 50 years ago, when she came to her school for the first day, her new orange shirt was stripped from her, and she has never seen it again.

Phyllis said, “The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying, and no one cared.”

A Gleneagle student, May Shanmei, express her feelings about the story behind the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, she said “The indigenous children were treated unfairly in the residential schools, so many children died because of this. Every child matters, and we should have fair treatment to everyone.”

The fact behind this national day is sorrowful, to avoid such tragedies repeat, we could educate ourselves by learning more facts about what happened in the residential schools and how the indigenous people contribute in Canada. We could also participate in Orange Shirt Day and donate to a charity to support local Indigenous.


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