every child matters

Sept. 23, 2021

Orange Shirt Day events highlight importance of remembering residential school victims

UCalgary marks day of reconciliation with flag lowering and joint events with Calgary Public Library

Historical discrimination and recent findings of unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools makes this year’s Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30especially important. Orange Shirt Day is a day to remember the victims of residential schools and the lasting intergenerational trauma that the legacy of residential schools has caused too many Indigenous families and communities.

The University of Calgary will host a flag lowering at 9 a.m. to mark the importance of the day. The flag lowering will be attended by Elders who support UCalgary’s Office of Indigenous Engagement as well as Dr. Michael Hart, vice-provost (Indigenous Engagement). This event will be livestreamed on the Office of Indigenous Engagement’s web page.

“We have a responsibility — as a university, as a society and as caring individuals — to remember what happened to the victims of residential schools and acknowledge the lasting harm this system caused. We are lowering the flag to remember all the victims and survivors, those who died at the hands of residential schools and those who today still carry with them the trauma of the past,” says UCalgary President Ed McCauley.

Also in recognition of Orange Shirt Day, the Office of Indigenous Engagement is partnering with the Calgary Public Library and providing lunch-time and evening events that highlight the lasting trauma caused by the residential school system, and Indigenous resiliency. While the spirit is of reconciliation, the purpose of the events is education and knowledge-building.

“We cannot forget children who died, the families who were torn apart, the cultural and religious identities that were lost and the souls that were not fed because of the policy of forced assimilation through residential schools,” says Hart. “These memories are difficult and painful, but it is important we revisit them so that we learn and ensure that something like this can never happens again.”

On Sept. 30, UCalgary and the Calgary Public Library joint programming includes:

  • Literature on Intergenerational Trauma and Healing
  • Sept. 30 at 12 – 1:30 p.m.
  • Online event
  • Register now

Indigenous Writers’ Panel featuring the works of Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach, Lee Maracle, author of Charlie, and Richard Van Camp, author of The Journey Forward: When We Play Our Drums, They Sing! The panel will feature an opening prayer by Stoney Nakoda Elder Una Wesley and will be moderated by UCalgary’s Dr. Michael Hart, vice-provost (Indigenous Engagement) with reflective remarks from Sarah Meilleur, interim CEO from the Calgary Public Library.

  • Monkey Beach, feature film screening and discussion
  • Sept. 30 at 6:30 – 9 p.m.
  • Online event
  • Register now

Monkey Beach is a feature film adapted from the novel by Eden Robinson. The novel draws the reader deep into a traditional world, a hidden universe of premonition, pain, and power during a time when tragedy strikes a West Coast Indigenous community. This story explores the healing journey steeped in intergenerational trauma as the main character discovers deep connections with her ancestral world and spiritual beliefs.

Following the viewing of the film, film members will be available to discuss its importance. Panellists include Loretta Todd, film director of Monkey Beach, and actors Tina Lameman and Nathaniel Arcand. This discussion will be moderated by Judy Aldous, CBC host of Alberta at Noon and includes special guest, Siksika Elder Adrian Wolfleg and UCalgary’s Michael Hart.

For other events happening around campus and organized by faculties go to the Community Engagement page.

ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.