Today, September 30th 2021, the Philadelphia Wings will be observing Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. For those who may not be familiar, we asked Wings Assistant General Manager Landon Miller to provide some educational context on the history & significance of this day.
This past June, the Canadian Federal Government announced the creation of a new statutory holiday known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Recognized on September 30 each year, this day fulfills the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call-to-Action #80 and will serve as a day of remembrance, reflection, action, and learning. Since 2013, September 30 has been known as Orange Shirt Day, a day to recognize the tragic history and long-standing effects of residential schools.
This day is especially important now considering the recent discoveries of thousands of First Nations children in unmarked graves at these residential schools across the country. For decades, our people have been telling these stories with little acknowledgment. Now, with the truth finally being surfaced, the whole world can educate themselves on our history and what we have endured as a people.
I took my family to the initial site on Kamloops Indian Band land a day after the discovery. I wept at the drumming ceremony. I was shaken to my core knowing that kids as young as 3 and as old as my youngest son (10) had died in this institution with no explanation and no proper burial. Today Canadians and Americans can look at their own kids and try to imagine what those kids went through, what they were thinking and experiencing from the time they were taken to residential schools until their deaths.
Change cannot happen without education. You can’t begin to sort out a path to healing without first coming to grips with how people have been suffering. Keep in mind these atrocities happened less than one generation ago, not 50, 60, or 100 years. The last residential school in Canada was closed in 1996! For the families and communities who survived this, it will take time and lots of it. With everything that we have learned recently, wounds have been opened back up, the trauma has resurfaced. To move forward, we need to have conversations about our past. It is important that these conversations are led by our people and supported by society as a whole.
Oren Lyons once said: ‘We may have had some losses, but we were never defeated.’ I think this holds so true to this part of history
Landon Miller is a Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario.
In addition to his role as Assistant General Manager of the Wings, Landon is one of the owners of a Tim Hortons on First Nations territory. Working with a group of Indigenous Tim Hortons owners, Landon helped develop a national campaign that is raising money for the Orange Shirt Society and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. To learn more about this campaign, click here.
We encourage all Wings fans to check out these resources to learn more: