On this day, (also known as ‘Orange Shirt Day’), the popular influencer, media personality, content creator and activist from British Columbia is taking a moment to recognize the survivors – and those who did not survive – this System that was originally designed “to assimilate or otherwise erase Indigenous communities in Canada,” she explains.
“The schools, which were glorified prisons, were run by (mostly Roman Catholic) churches and funded by the government of Canada. Between the 1870s and 1990s over 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their homes and held against their will in Residential Schools,” and the children, who were cut off from communicating with their parents, “were forbidden to speak their native languages or practice cultural traditions. Many… were mentally, physically, and sexually abused.”
“An estimated 4000-6000 Indigenous children are recorded as having died in the Residential School System. In recent years, ground-penetrating radars have identified a staggering number of mass burial sites on the grounds of many Residential Schools,” she says, adding that the 2021 discovery of 215 children’s bodies in unmarked graves at a Kamloops Residential School prompted the observance of this important day.
“I feel responsible as a young member of Métis Nation to amplify the voices of the Indigenous people around me… I sometimes feel that I exist in the margins between ‘Indigenous’ and ‘not-Indigenous’. I am proud of my Métis heritage and have a deep desire to share it with the world… I struggle to connect with my culture as a direct result of assimilation caused by the residential school system. Families like mine were made to unlearn their language, religion, and customs. As a result, much of our way-of-life was lost over the years.
“Our history is consumed by tragedy and loss, but one thing they have not taken from us is our voice. I am still here to tell my family’s story, alongside the powerful and resilient Métis, Inuit, and First Nations people around me. Maarsii.”
To read her story in full, visit goaskalexonline.com/my-metis-connection-to-truth-reconciliation.