BCIT Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships launches national orange shirt day project, ‘We Will Always Remember’ to honour the children of residential schools
British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is launching the ‘We Will Always Remember project in advance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day) on September 30th to engage Canadians in meaningful remembrance of the impact of residential school and using this opportunity to commit to action.
“The goal of this initiative is to honour and remember the children and families who attended residential schools,” says Executive Director Kory Wilson. “We want Canadians to learn, reflect and dialogue, but more importantly, go beyond these activities and commit to action and advancing reconciliation in their personal and professional lives for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.”
The initiative aims to have Canadians create an orange shirt by hand with an instructional video, commit to an action at home and in the workplace from Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions, and post their display of the We Will Always Remember project on social media with the hashtag #WeWillAlwaysRemember.
Instructions and toolkits available about how to get the project started in your organization or community, and how to create the orange shirts, as well as a list of tangible actions Canadians can take to advance reconciliation. Each orange shirt creation will have a commitment to action written on the back.
When I was a girl, I chose a bright orange shirt to wear for the first day of school that I picked out with my grandmother. But when I arrived at school my shirt was taken and I never saw it again,” says Phyllis Webstad, founder of the Orange Shirt Society. “The “We Will Always Remember” project builds upon the momentum created by Orange Shirt Day by encouraging Canadians to advance reconciliation at home, in their communities and in the workplace.”
“There is no ‘one way’ or ‘right way’ to create an orange shirt. The purpose of the We Will Always Remember project is to allow people to create with their hands, while learning and sharing stories,” says Wilson. “We truly want Canadians to focus on the action they will commit to by writing it on the back of their orange shirt – whether it’s something from the 94 TRC Calls to Action or using the resources available on the BCIT Indigenous Initiatives website.”
The “installations” or displays of orange shirts created in classrooms, workplace boardrooms, or store windows will serve as an ongoing visual representation and reminder of the numbers of kids that attended residential schools. The primary installation for the We Will Always Remember initiative will be at BCIT Burnaby Campus. Members of the BCIT community will fold, draw, colour, cut, sew orange shirts and place them at various campuses. BCIT will host workshops to allow the community to come together, create orange shirts and learn about residential schools and the contemporary reality of Indigenous people.