AMC Advocates for Truth and Reconciliation Amidst Provincial Government’s Inaction
September 29, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – On September 30, 2023, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) observes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day for all Canadians to commemorate the history and legacy of the residential school system. It is a day to honour the resilience, dignity and strength of survivors and intergenerational survivors and remember the children who never came home.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor. At the age of 6, Phyllis went to the St. Joseph Mission Indian Residential School wearing the bright orange shirt bought by her grandmother. She said she felt “bright and excited”, just like her shirt. But on the first day of school, her new shirt was forcibly taken from her, along with her dignity.
This story is one of the many examples of harm that was inflicted upon the self-esteem and well-being of children who were forced to attend residential schools. In a post-Indian residential school era, we still see the aftermath of that time which spanned more than 130 years and affected thousands and thousands of children, families and Nations. It is only through dialogue, understanding and partaking in events organized by First Nations and other Indigenous organizations, that Manitobans take part in those difficult conversations on our path to reconciliation.
This year’s observance gains heightened significance as we continue to raise this issue with the government of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government that they should recognize September 30 as an official holiday. This denial robs many Manitobans of the opportunity to fully engage in this crucial day of reflection and education.
The AMC underscores the importance of addressing this challenge and urges a commitment to truth and reconciliation. “The provincial government’s inaction on many of its own reconciliation commitments contradicts the spirit of reconciliation and impedes progress toward a more inclusive future,” said AMC Grand Chief, Cathy Merrick. “Despite the eight years that have passed since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its 94 Calls to Action, only 13 have been completed. Once again, we say to this provincial government that we will work with you to develop legislation that will make Orange Shirt Day a statutory holiday so that all may partake in the reconciliation journey with First Nations in this province.”
On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the AMC calls on all Manitobans to do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives—within our own circle of family and friends, within our communities, our places of worship, our schools, and our workplaces. It is important that we all continue that dialogue daily and not just one day a year. The AMC encourages everyone to wear an orange shirt tomorrow – September 30 – to raise awareness of this day.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.