From the flagpole to the fire pit, Brock’s main campus was busy with events and orange shirts marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Along with a film screening on Thursday, Sept. 28 and a lacrosse game on Saturday, Sept. 30, the University’s Hadiya’dagénhahs First Nations, Métis and Inuit Student Centre team and its campus partners hosted a variety of events Friday, Sept. 29 to honour and remember the more than 150,000 Indigenous children forced to attend residential schools in Canada.
Also known as Orange Shirt Day, the day has its origins in 1973 when Phyllis (Jack) Webstad was stripped of a new orange shirt purchased by her grandmother on her first day at the St. Joseph Mission residential school in Williams Lake, B.C., leaving her feeling as though she didn’t matter.
Beginning at the fire pit at 6:45 a.m., where Firekeeper Chris Shawanoo taught throughout the day, participants headed to the flagpole for the raising of the Survivors’ Flag at 8 a.m. before taking part in workshops that included a sharing circle from advocate/artist Vanessa Brousseau outside Pond Inlet and a book reading from author Dawn Cheryl Hill in Alphie’s Trough.
Further time to learn and reflect was offered in front of the Schmon tower, where the heart garden display honoured victims of colonial violence, and in the library, where visitors were invited to wrap books in fabric prints that show the name of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people.
The day also welcomed high school students from the District School Board of Niagara to join in the workshops and share in a traditional lunch before returning to the fire pit in the afternoon for a closing ceremony.