This year, for the first time, September 30 is recognized as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Since 2013, it has been recognized as Orange Shirt Day, named for the story shared by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. ECU will be closed on Thursday, September 30 to observe the statutory holiday.
The ECU community is committed to the work of reconciliation and decolonization all year round, and you can learn more about equity, diversion and inclusion (EDI) at Emily Carr on our website. Many of the goals of the evolving EDI Action Plan are in direct support of Indigenous students, staff and faculty; other goals in the EDI Action Plan invite all community members to actively participate in efforts to dismantle colonial structures at Emily Carr and beyond. Ultimately, it is work that belongs to all of us.
This is a day for honouring and uplifting residential school survivors and their families. This is also a day for settlers to reflect on how we can advance reconciliation in our own communities. In that spirit, I wish to share some resources and events for you below.
President + Vice-Chancellor
Ways to Recognize the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
- Read and reflect. Brenda Crabtree, our director of the Aboriginal Gathering Place, shared a heartfelt message reflecting on the intergenerational impacts of residential schools, and an invitation to build a better future for Indigenous peoples. Read it here.
- Learn about the origins of Orange Shirt Day. Watch a talk on YouTube by Phyllis Webstad, sharing her memories and experiences from residential school.
- On September 30, attend Xwey?ene:msta:m ??kw?sqwel, sey?em? at noon at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The name translates to call to witness / listen to respected one, and the performance blends traditional Coast Salish song and regalia with contemporary music and performance. The event is free and outdoors.
- On September 30, wear an orange shirt. If you wish to purchase one, please ensure you are buying from an Indigenous creator. Vancouver Magazine compiled five designs created by local Indigenous artists, benefitting Indigenous communities and residential school survivors.
- On September 29, students are invited for bannock and tea. Counselling, Wellness and Accessibility will be serving it in the Wellness Kitchen (Level 2, near the Reliance Theatre), from 11am until they run out. Students can also try making bannock.
- On September 29, the launch of the Solidarity Quilt Project will be happening in the Oasis Student Wellness Lounge (Level 2) from 11am until 3pm. Counselling, Wellness and Accessibility is hosting this inaugural event. Students can create their own quilt block that expresses what they stand for and the social justice issues they care about. Fabric supplies and sewing assistance will be provided. More dates, including opportunities for staff and faculty to participate, will be offered at a later date.
- Watch and learn. The Vancouver International Film Festival is screening Returning Home, a documentary that explores the intergenerational impacts of colonialism on the Secwépemc people, including Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad. There are four screenings between October 1-11, including one online showing through VIFF Connect.