Text on the image reads “September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day.” In the bottom right corner is the YMCA logo. In middle is a person wearing an orange t-shirt with an eagle feather and the words “Every Child Matters” on the t-shirt.

September 30, 2022

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is available to survivors and their families at any time. Please call 1-800-721-0066 or 1-866-925-4419 to access the 24-7 crisis line. You can find additional support via the First Nations and Inuit HopeForWellness.ca Help Line at 1-855-242-3310. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth can text 686868 for access to Indigenous volunteer crisis responders (via Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone) and adults can access this same service by messaging 741741.  

Today, on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day, YMCAs in Canada reflect on our responsibilities as treaty people with respect to the devastating legacy of the residential school system.

Since 2021, the uncovering of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools has brought widespread attention to what many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people already knew: thousands of Indigenous children perished and were harmed in the Canadian Indian residential school system. The graves raised many questions about how a society takes responsibility for the suffering inflicted by its own institutions upon vulnerable children. 

At YMCA Canada, we recognize that reconciliation is an ongoing process, and we must be an active participant. This past year we identified that Indigenous People are under-represented on our national board of directors, and we have initiated a recruitment process to change this. To mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, YMCA Canada held webinars this month that amplified Indigenous voices, as we continue to explore how we can meaningfully advance our truth and reconciliation journey.

YMCA Canada is pleased to announce that we are donating $38,896 to the Orange Shirt Society on behalf of YMCAs in Canada. This donation comes from the net 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 special permission from the Orange Shirt Society to use their official 2022 design.

The YMCA continues on our path to deepen our understanding of the ongoing effects of residential schools and how we can act in solidarity with Indigenous communities. Wherever you are on your path, we hope today you take another step forward toward being an active participant in reconciliation.