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Orange Shirt Day walk planned for Sept. 30

'Wearing an orange shirt is wonderful but being mindful of where the proceeds are going is a very important piece ... The important thing is what that shirt brings to the table, and that’s an opportunity to have dialogue'
2018-09-28 ORange Shirt Walk MH
Wearing their orange shirts, people of all ages walked the streets of Timmins in 2018 to honour residential school survivors and their families, as well as those who didn’t make it home. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

The annual walk in honour of residential school survivors and missing children is returning to Timmins this year.

On Orange Shirt Day, marked on Sept. 30, the Timmins Native Friendship Centre (TNFC) will be holding its seventh annual walk.

Last year, the walk was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Orange Shirt Day was inspired by Phyllis Webstad's story. Webstad was six years old when she arrived at a residential school and had her orange shirt taken away. She never wore that shirt again.

Sept. 30 is also a new federal statutory holiday, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

People are encouraged to wear orange to honour residential school survivors, their families and those who never made it home.

The City of Timmins will do a proclamation at the centre on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30, there will be an opening song and prayer followed by a walk. It will head down to Balsam Street, Third Avenue and Cedar Street before returning to the centre. COVID-19 protocols like wearing masks and social distancing will be in place.

After the walk, there will be a guest speaker sharing their experience of residential school, a sacred fire, tea and bannock.

“It’s wonderful a day is being made to recognize the history and the impact of the legacies of Canada’s residential school system,” said TNFC worker Caitlyn Kaltwasser. “It’s my hope people will take that day to learn more about it and have meaningful dialogue with the ones they care about, and to learn more about our history here in Canada.”

Orange T-shirts, while supplies last, will be available for those in attendance for the event.

“While wearing orange on Sept. 30 is a great way to honour residential school survivors, there are other ways that we can all take a pause to acknowledge and remember the harm done to these children, families and communities and the ones that never made it home,” Kaltwasser said.

She said some of the ways people can learn about Canadian history and educate others is by reading books written by Indigenous authors, reviewing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and committing to doing at least one of the calls, attending educational events, reading Phyllis Webstad's story and watching movies about residential schools such as Indian Horse.

“Wearing an orange shirt is wonderful but being mindful of where the proceeds are going is a very important piece,” Kaltwasser said. “You could put some orange ribbon on another shirt or wear some orange earrings or paint orange shirt in your window. The important thing is what that shirt brings to the table, and that’s an opportunity to have dialogue.”

The centre is also working with the City of Timmins on erecting a monument honouring residential school survivors and missing children. The project is in the planning stage, Kaltwasser said.

The annual powwow at Northern College was also put on hold with hopes to hold it next spring, she said.

A 24-hour residential school crisis line offering support to former students and their families is available at 1-866-925-4419.



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Dariya Baiguzhiyeva

About the Author: Dariya Baiguzhiyeva

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering diversity issues for TimminsToday. The LJI is funded by the Government of Canada
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