The Summit Youth Centre wanted to honour the Indigenous community, by educating the youth on the horrors that Indigenous peoples had to go through. The staff and youth alike all commemorated on Sept. 29, as the facility was closed on Sept. 30 for the first federally recognized Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Although, it is important to note that the original day of commemoration was titled ‘Orange Shirt Day,’ in honour of Phyllis Webstad’s movement. Webstad’s initiative began in 2013 with her telling her story of attending a residential school at the mere age of six, where she was stripped of her clothes upon arrival, including her brand-new, bright-orange shirt.
The event was organized by Alison Bortolon, director of the Summit Youth Centre, with the help of Sierra Franklin and Kelsey Prichard.
Franklin, who has worked at the Centre for the last five years, says they really, “wanted to honour our Indigenous community by wearing orange ‘Every Child Matters’ shirts.” The goal was to bring awareness to the youth about residential schools and ongoing systemic racism.
The Summit Youth Centre, officially established in 1994, aims to be a safe place for youth aged 12 to 18 to meet, hang out with friends, and participate in programs such as this one.
They also brought in River Woods, a Mental Health Outreach Coordinator with Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services, to talk with the group “about the ideas behind the Day of Reconciliation, why it is important, and what we can do moving forward to honour, and support our local Indigenous community,” says Franklin.
Afterwards, the youth took some time to write letters for the local Indigenous survivors of residential schools to show their support.
Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer