NAN Urges Canadians to Wear Orange, Reflect on Legacy of Residential Schools on July 1

THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Acting Grand Chief Walter Naveau encourages Canadians to wear orange on July 1 and reflect on the history and legacy of the Indian Residential School system:

“As more and more of our children who did not return from the Residential Schools are discovered, I do not believe that this is a time for celebrating Canada. Indigenous Peoples across our Nation have heaviness in their hearts, and we pray for their comfort and healing.

I hear people say that Canada is the greatest nation, but many choose not to acknowledge this country’s true history with Indigenous Peoples and the legacy that continues to this day. Canada has moved on from the dark days of the Residential Schools, but our people have not. Many are still grieving, and many cannot grieve until they know what happened to their loved ones – the children who were taken away and never made it home.

Canada’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples has caused so much devastation that it is hard to imagine how we can heal as a Nation. During each crisis the federal government is quick to acknowledge us and make commitments to reconciliation and our rights, but they do not follow through. Without meaningful action, healing and reconciliation are just words, and the outlook is bleak. We cannot move forward this way. There cannot be reconciliation unless the full truth is told – through our voices, our hearts, and our tears.

There is much to celebrate in life, and there will be many opportunities to celebrate Canada. But we need to make a meaningful step towards reconciliation. On July 1, I urge all Canadians to come together, learn, and reflect on this nation’s true history. Please wear orange and show the world how big of a heart Canada has.”

Orange is the symbol of the annual Orange Shirt Day, named for Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, whose new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year-old girl on her first day at Residential School.

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