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*Content Warning* This message may trigger unpleasant feelings or thoughts. Please contact the 24-hour KUU-US Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717 if you need emotional support. A complete listing of support services is included at the end of this statement.
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is honoring the third official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, encouraging all people to wear orange to show solidarity in honoring and remembering the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. Orange Shirt Day has been in existence since 2013 as a way to support Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation, and all First Nations children who were stripped from their belongings, culture, and communities when taken to residential school. This day is an opportunity for us to unite and honor the resiliency of First Nations Communities in BC and the steps they have taken toward healing through culture, ceremonies, customs, and traditions. First Nations Communities in BC have continued demonstrating how they honor September 30th through Pow Wows, gatherings, feasts, and ceremonies revealing monuments such as totem poles, carvings, painted orange bridges, and sidewalks. For example, in July 2023, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) and the Village of Keremeos collaborated and unveiled an orange crosswalk with “Every Child Matters" in English and Nsyilxcn. For the communities, it demonstrates the ongoing work of reconciliation and the path we must take together.
We want to recognize everyone who supports this critical work, including the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program, knowledge keepers, and cultural supports. Their support includes leading with culture and ceremony to support healing for Indian Residential School Survivors (including intergenerational Survivors), Indian Day School Survivors, Indian Day Scholars, 60's Scoop Survivors, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relations (including men and boys). They also support the search and recovery process of unmarked burials and missing children at former Indian Residential School sites. We are committed to providing wellness support for survivors and grateful to our health and cultural support teams throughout the province for providing care for our people. September 30 is an opportunity for all of us to consider what we can do as individuals to advance reconciliation and recommit to learning and deepening our understanding of our shared history. We at the FNHA want to hear from you, your community, and your friends and family about what Sept. 30 and reconciliation mean to you! Why do you wear orange on Sept. 30? Share your thoughts with us by writing into our Wellness Inbox at Wellness@fnha.ca or by tagging us (search FNHA or First Nations Health Authority) and use the hashtag #FNHASeptember30 on social media.
Cultural Safety and Humility Resources
To learn more, visit Cultural Safety and Humility.
FNHA's Mental Health and Wellness Supports page: Mental Health and Wellness Supports (fnha.ca) Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum Society (cultural support and counselling): 1-888-403-3123
Indian Residential School Survivors Society: 1-800-721-0066 or 604-985-4464
KUU-US Crisis Line Society: Adults/Elders: 250-723-4050; Children/Youth: 250-723-2040; Toll-free: 1-800-588-8717
In Health and Wellness
Richard Jock, FNHA Chief Executive Officer