Hope on Orange Shirt Day

John K. White

The North Okanagan Friendship Centre Society in Vernon hosted a BBQ to commemorate Orange Shirt Day Monday as a way to make a positive connection with the community at large over a painful history.

"Orange Shirt Day is bringing awareness to people of Residential Schools, that it happened and that we're working through it," said Val Chiba from Vernon's North Okanagan Friendship Centre on Monday. 

"We are having more healing programs to work through the systemic oppression."

Chiba said the positive theme is intentional to show there is growth and hope for the future.

"Today, the Friendship Centres, we open our doors. We always have an open-door policy and this is our way to bring awareness to the community in a positive fashion," Chiba said.

She wants visitors to the BBQ to come away with a better understanding of what Residential School survivors went through and continue to go through.

"We want them to take away some understanding and education that there is hope and we are thriving and getting stronger," Chiba said.

Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters is a grassroots event that acknowledges the harm that Canada's residential school system had on generations of Indigenous families and their communities. Every year on Sept. 30, Canadians are asked to wear orange as a sign of support. 

Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. Sept. 30 was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools.

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