Staff reporter/Valentina Buendía
This past September 30 of this year we celebrated the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day commemorates the children who were abused and from their families in Indian Residential schools in Canada.
Between 1831 and 1998, there used to be 140 federally run Indigenous Residential schools in Canada. Residential schools were church-run schools where tons of children were sent to between the 1860s and the 1990s. The schools would harm the kids and forcedly take them away from their families. They were not allowed to speak their ancestral language, only English or French. This would disconnect them from their culture and traditions, and they were forced into Christianity.
On this day we wear orange to honor the Indigenous children that were sent away to residential schools in Canada. The orange shirt refers to the shirt Phyllis Webstad was given to by her grandmother on her first day of residential school, which was then taken away.
In an interview, Gleneagle student, Lorenza Punzo, answered a series of questions regarding this day.
“It is a day to reflect and acknowledge what happened to Indigenous people in these residential schools,” she said.
“I think campaigns and programs can really help their voice be heard.”
“Yes, because they have been here way longer than us and it is important to our history and our culture”, Punzo said when asked if it is important to learn about the struggles of Indigenous people.
“The government can help by organizing different programs and to preserve their culture and traditions.”
Parent, Ana Ortiz, was also interviewed.
“As a new immigrant in Canada and not having a deep understanding of Canadian history, Truth and Reconciliation to me means that the Canadian government is rightfully acknowledging the injustices that were committed and the harm caused against the Indigenous people and the children in residential schools and honoring the lives of the children that disappeared or survived this tragedy”, said Ortiz.
She said that learning more about their history and support indigenous businesses, helping create awareness by talking about their issues with others and donate time or money to a charity or organization that supports these communities can help their voice be heard.
“Yes, I think it’s important to learn about their struggles, so we can do something to help them. It’s important to be educated so these things don’t happen again”, she said.
“The government can help by revising laws and protocols that were instigated against indigenous communities. Also, by funding projects to help these communities solve their specific issues and improve their quality of life. Providing counseling to any families affected by the residential school system.”
Over 130 residential schools operated in Canada between 1931 and 1996, with the first one, The Mohawk Institute in Branford, opening in and the last, The Gordon Residential School in Punnichy, closing in 1996.