Truth and Reconciliation Day: Here’s how you can recognize the impact of residential schools in Prince Albert

Wild Bear Singers performed before the Every Child Matters Walk in 2022. – Michael Oleskyn/Daily Herald

Groups across Prince Albert are preparing events and initiatives for the public to recognize the upcoming National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Coinciding with Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, the statutory holiday is intended for recognizing the legacy of residential schools and honouring survivors. The federal government first recognized Truth and Reconciliation Day in 2021.

“Truth and reconciliation is something we should be learning and doing every day, but certainly it’s an important day to recognize history and to really listen,” said Judy MacLeod Campbell, arts and culture coordinator for the City of Prince Albert.

For the second year, the city is lending out a stencil with a design by local Indigenous artist Ailah Carpenter. Businesses and organizations can use the stencil for their windows or sidewalks.

“The stencil is just one way, right, that businesses can recognize that ‘Hey, we’re here. We understand. We’re respecting Orange Shirt Day and what it means and what it represents,’” said MacLeod Campbell.

“It’s a beautiful (design), and it’s something that we can do in our community and for our community.”

Last year, she said, the city saw eight different groups borrow the stencil, some of which used it in multiple places. So far this year, five groups have used it, including the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division.

Shirts with the design are available to purchase at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. 

Limitless Gear Clothing also has orange shirts with its own logo available at the Lake Country Co-op Food Store or on its website. The local business has donated a thousand dollars from sales so far to the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) Women’s Commission for scholarships.

Two walks are set to take place on Sept. 30, one hosted by the PAGC and the other by the Friendship Centre and Navy League.

The PAGC event will begin at 10 a.m. at the MMIWG monument downtown, concluding at the PAGC building. The Friendship Centre and Navy League walk will begin at 3 p.m. at Kinsmen Park and finish at City Hall.

The Friendship Centre and First Nations University of Canada are also hosting a feast and round dance between 5 p.m. and midnight. That will take place at the Friendship Centre.

On Sept. 28, the Arts Centre is doing a blanket exercise at 7 p.m.

The 10 for 10 campaign

While the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has only been federally recognized for three years, this year marks the 10th Orange Shirt Day.

The movement began with survivor Phyllis Webstad. A residential school in British Columbia stripped her of all of clothing and personal belongings, including the orange shirt she wore on the day she was taken away.

The International Indigenous Speakers Bureau (IISB) is challenging 10 per cent of Canadians to watch a video of Webstad’s story as part of its 10 for 10 campaign. The organization hopes to reach its goal by the winter solstice on Dec. 21.

The IISB says by listening to her first-hand account of residential school, you’re taken a meaningful step towards reconciliation.

According to the IISB, there were 139 federally-recognized residential schools in Canada, but the total residential institutions amounted to around 1,200. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report says over 150,000 Indigenous students across the country attended residential schools.