Public Invited to participate in Truth and Reconciliation Day events on the Sunshine Coast

Help and support for survivors and their families can be found through the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or A crisis line is also available through Indian Residential School Survivors and Family at 1-866-925-4419.

The third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the shíshálh swiya (world or territory) will be on this coming Saturday, Sept. 30, and will include a series of events the public are invited to participate in.

The day is designated to recognize, honour, and support survivors of residential schools, and local events will commemorate the children who attended the Sechelt Residential School.

There will be a number of events where the public can show their solidarity, gain knowledge on truth and reconciliation and support local Indigenous artists.

As well this year, syiyaya Reconciliation Movement is coordinating the Healing Hearts project where 651 hearts will be painted and personalized to honour survivors and the children. Fifty-one of the hearts are engraved with the names of the 51 Nations that attended the school. These hearts will be mounted on the chain link fence around the mem7iman Child Development Centre and Friendship Park, both fronting onto xenichen Avenue.

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a Commemoration Ceremony will take place at the Residential School Monument site to honour and remember attendees of the Sechelt Residential School. Drumming and singing, speakers, a moment of silence, and cultural ceremony will take place.

The monument is located behind the shíshálh administration buildings and Raven's Cry Theatre.

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the Walk for Reconciliation will take place. The public is invited to participate in a walk for reconciliation that will begin at the Residential School Monument site.

For those who plan to attend the walk, it is recommended to park at Tsain-Ko Centre across the street, as parking onsite will be reserved for those with mobility challenges.

All attendees are invited to wear an orange shirt to show solidarity with residential school survivors.

Orange shirts designed by shíshálh artists are available for purchase at tems swiya Museum, where all proceeds will go towards future activities for Elders and residential school survivors.

Two types of T-shirts are available this year: a heavy cotton shirt for $25, and a lighter cotton shirt, which costs $30. To get yours, call: 604-885-6012, sales are cash only.

The 2023 Orange Shirt Day T-shirt features art from two local designers, and there is also a youth shirt.

The front image was created by artist Charlie Craigan, The design is of a grandmother holding her grandchildren with a hand placed over the grandmother's heart. The feathers frame the design with the Orange Shirt Day slogan of Every Child Matters.

The image on the back of the shirt was created by artist Manuela Salinas and features children’s hands transforming into wings. The design recognizes each child who has been impacted by residential schools and finding the recognition and awareness they deserve. The image also includes the shíshálh language translation of “Every Child Matters” and the names of all the Nations that attended Sechelt Residential School.

This year shíshálh Nation welcomed shíshálh youth to submit their designs for a youth-specific shirt, where artist Braelynn Mazur created the winning design. The design has 51 white dots on a hand recognizing the 51 nations that attended the Sechelt Residential School.

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives' operating hours on Sept. 30.

Jordan Copp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Coast Reporter