Today is Orange Shirt Day, an important day for everyone to reflect on the impact that residential schools have had on Indigenous people. The history of residential schools is of course a living history, as their impacts are still felt today throughout communities and families.
With the last residential school closing in just 1996, it is vital that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that this is an issue from the distant past. It’s still a recent memory, and survivors of residential schools are living in communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
And while it is crucial to highlight the history of residential schools, we also must acknowledge the continued anti-Indigenous racism that is prevalent in our society, including structural and systemic racism. From the treatment of Indigenous children in care, a lack of action regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the lack of commitment to the principles outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, every level of government needs to do a lot better.
It was great, then, to see all the orange shirts out today, especially among young people in our community. It is my genuine belief that our community is committed to this cause, and I am proud to represent a community that is dedicated to undoing the wrongs that have been, and continue to be, perpetrated on Indigenous peoples here.
Especially now, during COVID-19, it is vital that we keep the core foundation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in mind as we approach our recovery plan. Perhaps now, when everyone is being pushed to wash their hands frequently and steer clear of germs, we will be able to convince our federal and provincial governments to do what they must to ensure that every community has access to clear drinking water.
This morning, I went by D’Arcy McGee School to speak with students, parents, and teachers about how they are coping with COVID-19, as well as about the recovery plan that has been put forward by the Ford government. In the last week, they have had two cases of COVID-19, and their class sizes are still far too large thanks to the Ford government.
Speaking with parents, the fear and pain they are feeling right now is palpable.
Sadly, it seems that we are now on pace to soon see over 1000 new cases of COVID-19 per day in Ontario soon, and we still have yet to hear a comprehensive second wave plan from the government. Perhaps the most frustrating part right now is that for months scientists and public health experts have predicted that a second wave would come, and despite their advice, the government of Ontario is still not ready.
While we cannot count on the Ford government to be a reliable source of support, one thing we as Torontonians have always known is that we can rely on our convenience stores. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen them adapt and keep their doors open to ensure that we can all get the items we need close to home.
Just a few weeks ago I put a call out to our community to share with me your favourite local convenience stores, and today I was thrilled to be able to present your nominated stores with their own Community Hero Awards. I want to send a very special congratulations to all the winners:
- Mister Milk – 170 Vaughan Road
- Bathurst Food Mart – 1552 Bathurst St
- Green Farms – 1364 Bathurst St
- Atlas Grocery – 130 Atlas Ave
- Hillcrest Market – 632 St. Clair Ave W
- Hasty Market – 21 Davisville
I am hoping to continue to recognizing people, businesses and organizations in our community that have been able to make a real impact during these incredibly difficult times. If there is a someone or somewhere that you would like to see recognized, please click here and submit your nomination!
Orange Shirt Day Resources
Orange Shirt Society
A background on Orange Shirt Day and how it came to be
Additional resources on Residential Schools
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Senator Murray Sinclair, who was the Chief Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission speaks in this video about the importance of the TRC.
A Heritage Minute video about Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack.
Additional resource for learning: Indigenous Canada course
A short description of the course from the website:
“From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.”