September 29, 2021
YMCA Canada stands with all Indigenous Peoples as we mark the very first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a new Federal holiday that recognizes and commemorates the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools. Orange Shirt Day, which is also recognized on September 30, coincides with this holiday.
On this day in particular, we reflect on the cruelty of a system that continues to echo through the generations. 2021 has been especially difficult with the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves at former residential schools, a painful reminder for those who knew the truth, and a horrifying wake-up call for those who didn’t.
As a charity committed to helping each person reach their potential, we know the residential school system robbed so many Indigenous children of theirs. At the YMCA, we are committed to continuing to learn the truth about the residential school system and recognizing how the impact still manifests itself in 2021. We also know that learning the truth is the first step, but not the last. Everyone must take action for reconciliation to happen, including us.
Through our YMCA Statement of Reconciliation, educational sessions for staff, opportunities to hear from Indigenous leaders, and reporting on YMCAs reconciliation efforts, YMCA Canada is committed to continuing to raise awareness and supporting YMCA Member Associations as they take action in their local communities. We reaffirm our commitment to continuing this work and finding new ways to do so.
YMCA Canada is pleased to announce that we are donating $67,836.80 to the Orange Shirt Society on behalf of YMCAs in Canada. This donation comes from the proceeds of sales of YMCA Orange Shirt Day t-shirts across the Canadian YMCA Federation. At many YMCAs today, staff will be wearing these t-shirts to raise awareness of Orange Shirt Day and all the pain and hope it represents. We are proud to have had the support of Phyllis Webstad and the Orange Shirt Society for this initiative.
While today is a time for reflection, it is also a time to look forward and to consider where we are in our journey towards learning the truth. Like us, we hope you’re also thinking about what you can do next. Together, we can become the Canada We Want – a country that acknowledges our past and present injustices, as well as our collective responsibility to persist in our commitment toward reconciliation.