Gianna Rose Basit/Staff reporter 

September 30, 2021, marked the first official National Truth and Reconciliation Day. This day is used to reflect, honour and commemorate the lives of the lost indigenous children, survivors and their families, who have been impacted by the events of residential schools.

On June 3, 2021, National Truth and Reconciliation Day was made official through legislative amends by both houses of Parliament when they approved of Bill C-5 “An act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code” or more simply National Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30, to be a federal statutory holiday. 

Orange Shirt Day: How Phyllis Webstad's 1st day at residential school  inspired a movement | CBC News

National Truth and Reconciliation Day was also known as Orange Shirt Day, there was a reason why it was called that, why we wear orange, and why we reflect on that day, on September 30, 2013, a survivor of residential schools shared her story publicly, Phyllis Webstad. When Phyllis turned six years old, she was sent to attend the St. Joseph Indian Residential school with a new orange shirt her grandma gave her. When she got there, she was stripped of her clothes, and it was taken away, just like the other estimated 150,000 plus children who were taken to these residential schools all over Canada. 

Since May of 2021, remains of children on the grounds of former residential schools have been discovered all over Canada. Over 13,000 graves have been found this year. And till this day we are still unsure how many more remains there are across Canada in the grounds of former schools. 

More than 130 residential schools have existed for more than 160 years. The first schools began around 1831, and the last one closed in 1996, that was only 25 years ago. Residential schools are Government issued schools that were run by churches. They have been described as a cultural genocide, taking away an estimated 150,000 plus children from their families, robbing them of their culture and identity, torturing them, and killing them. Leaving some survivors and their families not knowing who they are, and holes in their hearts that can’t be filled. 

“It’s sad. Everybody will say it’s sad. If you contradict, people will get mad at you, but it’s true, forcing not only the children, but their families to be educated and to be forced to only follow the ways of another. It’s depressing.” is what Dionisio Basit, parent; said when interviewed on how he felt about children being taken away from their homes. “It’s not their own will.” He added. 

“We can only be there and support to help them recover” Gemma Basit, parent; said when asked about how we can help them recover. Gemma also said that “Being separated from family is a hard thing to experience, knowing as an immigrant to Canada. I personally can’t relate to my children never coming home again, but what happened to them was just inhumane.”  

Even if we as individuals are not a part of the indigenous culture, it is still important to be there for others. We can still reflect on this history and be supportive.