There is little doubt that Orange Shirt Day (Sept. 30th, 2021) will be far different in its intensity than any other experienced by the Indigenous Peoples and Canadians in general than ever before. Past trauma is being relived, the hearts of our Nations are swollen with pain and sorrow! The number of unmarked graves of innocent Indigenous children who perished within the walls of John A. Macdonald’s Residential Schools grows in its tally with each passing week. Warren Kinsella, a former advisor to prime ministers and today a celebrated writer with The Sun newspaper chain predicts that by the end of the search for children graves, the count will be as high as 35,000. Bill Curry (Toronto Star) investigated deaths in Residential Schools many years ago and estimated that over 50,000 children died in the schools. Time is short for the making of plans which fully speak to how our collective hearts are processing all of this. Many people are hurting! Thankfully we, the Indigenous Peoples, need not look too far to find human beings, not of our culture or heritage, offering our communities sincere words of sympathy and actions supporting what we want to do in the way of bringing peace and healing for all who are in despair.
I believe that we should begin to plan now for Orange Shirt Day 2022. The good people living in unceded, never surrendered Algonquin Territory want to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples at this time of reflection and contemplation. Our friends and allies of varying skin colours are eager to help us (Indigenous People) to realize whatever plans we make to honour all children who suffered untold miseries and death in “the place where our children went to die”.
I propose that a ‘grassroots’ movement occur! One where the ‘People’ do what they think is right in creating awareness for those Canadians who are ignorant of this country’s brutal and tragic past. To bring them with us to that time when Canada rounded up the most pure, the most innocent of human beings and took them to a place designed to destroy, emotionally and spiritually, children, whose only crime was to be born from people who had lived on these resource-rich lands for thousands of years. Many of the children who survived left the schools feeling as if they had been mentally crucified. A big number of them finished off their lives broken in spirit, never getting the opportunity to give purpose to their lives.
Pamela Naymark, a young married woman and mother of two youngsters, and I are working together to raise money through the sale of shirts (which I designed) to fund initiatives generated to assist in a day of remembrance (September 30, 2022) for the kids who died in the schools. Pamela hopes that this initiative will become a commemoration that has the potential to include activities to encourage advocacy and advance reconciliation.
To be very clear, no one, but no one is profiting from this venture. Not even a nickel from this initiative is going into anyone’s pocket. I myself am buying several shirts and will pay full price for them. We ask readers of this blog to reach out and give us (Pamela and I) your idea on how the money raised should be spent. Examples could be a play acted out by Algonquin band members or a poetry night where poems composed by Algonquins (and other Indigenous Peoples) speaking to how a child might have felt to be uprooted from their loving home and taken by force to one of Macdonald’s schools.
A new dawn is on the horizon! It is present and is being embraced by all Peoples who understand that the new day of healing is now upon us. Let us not give thoughts of turning our backs to it. Let us ask ourselves what the children who suffered and died at the schools would counsel us to do at this time.
To order your shirt contact Pamela Naymark at email@example.com.
They are available in youth and adult sizes. Languages: Algonquin, English and French. Suggested donation is $30. Anyone who wishes can donate more than the $30 price per shirt. Students and people who do not have the means to pay the full amount can contact Pamela to work something out.
Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)