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Oct 5, 2022
CMHA WW joins Canadians across the country in observing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.
The day was established by the federal government to honour survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Orange Shirt Day has been observed on September 30th since 2013, when Phyllis Webstad shared her story at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event in Williams Lake, BC. At 6 years old, Phyllis was excited to wear her new orange shirt, given to her
by her grandmother, to her first day of residential school. However, her shirt was taken from her when she arrived, and she never saw it again. The slogan “Every Child Matters” was chosen to recognize that the children who attended the schools felt that they did not matter. Orange Shirt
Day is commemorated to continue the dialogue on the tragic effects of residential schools, listen to stories of survivors, remember those who didn’t make it, offer an opportunity for learning, and bring people, institutions, and governments together in the spirit of reconciliation.
In 2021, the federal government passed Bill C-5, recognizing September 30th as a federal holiday under a new name: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The physical, psychological and spiritual violence stemming from residential schools has caused pain that has been passed from generation to generation. The long history of racism, violence and cultural genocide towards Indigenous peoples in Canada did not end with the closure of residential schools. It continues to this day. Every day, Indigenous people live the very real impacts of systemic racism and colonialism, which affect their mental health and well-being.
CMHA WW stands with CMHA National in calling for our health care system and decision-makers to heed the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to support Indigenous communities’ calls to action on reconciliation, and particularly those in support of Indigenous mental health, healing, and well-being.
As part of our own commitment to advance reconciliation, CMHA branches across Ontario have been engaging in meaningful partnerships with Indigenous organizations and leaders in the development and implementation of cultural programs and services, including supporting Indigenous-led mental health promotion within communities, valuing Indigenous healing practices and ways of working rooted in the principles of cultural safety and self-determination, and offering Indigenous cultural awareness training for staff members.
This summer, mental health providers across the country reported a significant increase in the demand for Indigenous-specific mental health and wellness services during Pope Francis’ visit to Canada. As the Pope toured the country apologizing for the “deplorable evil” of residential schools, crisis call lines and trauma centers saw the demand for support by Indigenous people double.
As one of those service providers, CMHA WW is very committed to supporting our Indigenous communities in any way that is needed locally. But more important than our services, our Indigenous communities need mental health support led by Indigenous people for Indigenous people. For Indigenous communities, traditional concepts of well-being are deeply rooted in respect, care and connectedness, to both each other and to the land. We need to insist that this happens.
CMHA WW proudly stands with our Indigenous service partners and leaders to call for Indigenous lead mental health services. We are fortunate locally to have many Incredible and inspiring Indigenous leaders, like Clarence Cachagee, founder of Crowshields Lodge.
CMHA WW staff Recently attended a Every Child Matters Crosswalk unveiling Event at Victoria Park in Kitchener to provide support. The crosswalk, placed at the Water Street and Jubilee Drive intersection in downtown Kitchener, is to honour the lives lost at former residential schools across Canada. The three CMHA WW staff pictured below are Michelle Cressman and Janis Hunt from Here 24/7 and Lisa Cousineau from Self Help Alliance.