Every child matters
Honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021
Hi, I’m Mayor Kennedy Stewart,
It’s my honour to acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the City of Vancouver, located on the unceded homelands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth people, and to issue a proclamation on behalf of my Council colleagues.
Today, also known as Orange Shirt Day, is our chance to reflect on the intergenerational legacy of residential schools and the need to continue the reconciliation process. In the words of Phyllis Webstad, creator of Orange Shirt Day and residential school survivor, “we wear an orange shirt to honour the children who survived the Indian Residential Schools and to remember those who didn’t.
”From the 1870s to 1996, Canadian governments removed more than 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and communities. They forced them into residential schools, including the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School in North Vancouver. Children suffered cultural alienation, loss of their Indigenous languages and identity, and severe mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Estimates are that more than 6,000 Indigenous children died or were murdered in Residential Schools in Canada. Staff and leadership at the City grieve alongside Indigenous colleagues and with Indigenous communities across Canada.
The City has contributed to the erasure and discrimination of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth Nations and Urban Indigenous communities by not reflecting these Nations and communities within our planning processes, civic facilities or acknowledging their rights and title to their lands.
In 2014, we adopted a Reconciliation Framework and became a City of Reconciliation, and are enacting 27 of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action relating to municipalities. We continue to strengthen our government-to-government relationship with the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation. We are deeply grateful for the Host Nations who have stewarded these lands since time immemorial.
We are also grateful for the contributions of Urban Indigenous community members, past, present and future, in shaping our city, and I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Indigenous staff at the City of Vancouver, who do invaluable and challenging work every day.
On September 30th, and every day, we commemorate and honour every Indigenous child, family and community subjected to harm caused by residential schools – and call on everyone in Vancouver and across Turtle Island to join in our commitment to advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.