At the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), we commit to standing in solidarity with Indigenous communities across Canada to acknowledge our nation’s painful history of colonization and the resulting legacy of residential schools. Truth and Reconciliation week is dedicated to honouring and remembering the survivors of the residential school system and the thousands of children who never made it home to their families and communities.
We also acknowledge Orange Shirt Day in honour of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation whose orange shirt was taken from her on her first day of residential school. The orange shirt has become a symbol of remembrance for all Indigenous children who were removed from their families to attend institutions where they were stripped of their language and culture and subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
There were 140 federally run Residential Schools in Canada between 1831 and 1998. The last school closed only 23 years ago. The initial discovery of 215 unmarked graves on a former residential school property in Kamloops, B.C, with hundreds more identified across Canada, has shone a light on the shameful truth about residential schools and the painful legacy they’ve left behind.
CABHI remains committed to honouring Truth and Reconciliation week by learning about and reflecting on the history of the residential school system, and the continuing intergenerational impacts on Indigenous people, families, and communities. We believe that this is critical to engaging in our collective reconciliation journey as settlers of this country. We also remain committed to working alongside Indigenous communities across Canada to develop culturally safe aging and brain health innovations that employ traditional research methods and dissemination tactics and to supporting and advancing the voices and successes of Indigenous innovators.
We invite you to learn more about some of the Indigenous-focused solutions and innovators CABHI has supported, and to take time to visit resources like the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which is featuring special events throughout the week.
If you are a direct or intergenerational survivor in need of support, please contact the Residential School Survivor Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.
Dr. Allison Sekuler
Managing Director, Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation