Orange Shirt Day, September 30, is an occasion to pause and remember Canada’s residential school survivors and to reflect on our collective responsibility to take steps towards reconciliation. But it’s also an extraordinary opportunity to foster compassion, empathy and resilience among today’s young people – who must learn about Canada’s traumatic past to ensure that it is never again repeated.
As the parent of a young teen and the husband of a teacher, I urge my fellow parents and educators across the country to share the story of Phyllis Webstad with the children in your care. There are resources specifically to open the conversation and guide your discussion. Ultimately, our best hope of moving forward will be through educating young people and arming them with the tools to build resiliency and identify mental health problems. Teaching the young people of today how and where to ask for help is an important step in redressing the damage wrought by residential schools.
That is why, in addition to adding Orange Shirt Day to the roster of significant days acknowledged across the country, I also encourage every school to learn about the MHCC’s HEADSTRONG anti-stigma summits, which are resonating with high schools across the country –especially within Indigenous communities. You can read about the impact of these summits in the September issue of Canadian Teacher.
Today, wear an orange shirt in the spirit of reconciliation and pledge your commitment to build a better tomorrow for every child in Canada.
Board Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada, Media Relations
613.683.3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org