September 30, 2020
By Stephanie Blond
September 30th marks an annual day across Canada in recognition of the Indigenous children and their families who were greatly affected by Indian Residential Schools. It is estimated that approximately 63,000 Indigenous children died as a result of these institutions. The legacy of residential schools has not only affected the children and their families, but also later generations. It is important to note that the last residential school closed just under 25 years ago, in 1996.
Orange Shirt Day was started by Phyllis Webstad to educate people about residential schools and also to fight racism and bullying. The orange shirt symbolizes the new shirt that Phyllis was given to her by grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school outside of Williams Lake BC. When Phyllis got to school, they took away her clothes, including her new shirt. It was never returned to her.
To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of the experiences at residential school and as she has said, “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
The message that Phillis wants to pass around on Orange Shirt Day and every day – is that every child matters. Phyllis Webstad has a brief video where she outlines this experience from her own perspective. You can find that video and other useful information on her organization at https://www.orangeshirtday.org/.
One of the best ways you can show support and honour the legacy of those who survived residential school and also to those who did not, is to wear your very own orange shirt on September 30th.
An Introduction to the new Indian Residential School Support Worker
My name is Stephanie Blond and I am the Indian Residential School Support Worker for Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS). Below is a picture of myself wearing the orange shirt that was recently gifted to me. The phrase above the CSFS logo is written in the Dakelh language which translates to “all children are valuable.” As the Indian Residential Support Worker, I assist our community by working closely to support survivors and their families through the enduring effects of these institutions. I also help individuals with accessing financial compensation through the federal government for having attended Indian residential schools.
Here at CSFS, we have numerous resources and programs to assist our clients through the struggles they are facing as a result of these traumatic experiences. These issues could include struggles with parenting, alcohol and drug dependency, anxiety or depression, stress, and more. The Health and Wellness Program at CSFS is just one of the multitude of services offered to all demographics for a variety of needs. The Health and Wellness Program aims to help people of any age who are having a hard time finding balance in their life. The services through this program blend traditional ways of healing with evidence-based practices, also known as “two-eyed seeing.” Additional services that are available include:
· Community Mental Health
· Addictions Recovery
· Counselling for children and families
· Parenting Support
· National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Mentorship Program
· Critical Incident Stress Management
If either yourself or someone you know has been impacted by residential schools, I would encourage them to reach out and access our many services here at CSFS. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to not only provide emotional support but also to help individuals receive the financial compensation they deserve through the federal government by means of the IAP application process.
Indian Residential School Support Worker
Carrier Sekani Family Services
240 W Stewart St. Vanderhoof, BC
(250) 567 – 2900
Last modified: Friday 12-Jun-20 15:43:45 PDT