It is now recognized nationally, marked by the colour orange. But Orange Shirt Day has deep-seated meaning for Kukpi7 (Chief) Willie Sellars of the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) – because its roots are entwined with the horrific history of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) and Canada’s dark legacy of residential schools.
Many children from WLFN, along with children from Ulkatcho First Nation, Mt. Currie First Nation and other First Nations communities were forced to attend St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School. Their stories, and the stories of children who attended residential schools across Canada, are now being told – and remembered every year on Sept. 30, now known as Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Chief Sellars recently discussed the Sept. 30 days of recognition on Interior Health’s Interior Voices podcast.
"Intergenerational trauma is a real thing," he says. "What are we doing to address the intergenerational piece, break the cycle and start seeing healthier families and communities?"