Morden's Rachelle Fehr, an Anishinaabe and Indian woman, shared her lived experience from the effects of Residential Schools and the 60's Scoop on her life in Morden on Friday.
She shared why today people are stopping their regular daily activities to observe this important day in Canadian history.
"The idea around observing Orange Shirt Day was to create awareness, and to educate people on the impacts the Residential School System has had on Indigenous People in Canada, and also the effects that are continued to be felt today from that same system. The Orange Shirt Story itself comes from the real-life story told by Phyllis Webstad , she's a member of Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation, and her experiences attending Residential School are told in her book."
Hear Rachelle's full presentation here:
Fehr went on to explain why she thinks it's important to focus on truth and reconciliation.
"I keep remembering comments that I've heard from my fellow Canadians over the years. Things like, 'Why can't they, Indigenous People, just get over it?', or 'I didn't have anything to do with what happened at Residential Schools,' or 'How many times do people need to hear an apology?' How many people in Winkler or Morden, realize the person they're passing in the grocery store, or their neighbor, or maybe even a friend, have been directly and personally impacted by the genocide on Indigenous People committed by Canada."
For those not sure where to start in their journey toward reconciliation, Fehr had these words to offer.
"I believe the very first step for every person living here on Turtle Island or Canada, whatever you call it, is to open up your heart and open up your mind, and to consider the possibility that maybe what you have learned hasn't been the entire truth, and to consider the idea that the story of Canada we've grown up with, and that we've known up until now, hasn't been complete. Then, if you can, open up your heart and mind to that, then maybe you can start to listen, and start to listen to the truth being shared by the Indigenous Community."
Fehr said these stories aren't new, and have been told for years and documented in history. She said it was good the government finally recognized this, because the atrocities committed by Canada and the church still has a lasting effect on Indigenous people today. She noted truth has to come before reconciliation.
Fehr remarked relationships between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people is essential and described what that could look like.
"It starts with listening. It starts with not shying away from what people have to say, not trying to ignore people's lived experiences, or even worse, excuse people's lived experiences. I think something really important to remember here is we were talking about residential schools and the 60s Scoop and all that stuff, you aren't actually learning about Indigenous People or our history or culture, what you're learning about is the history of Canada, and the history of the churches in Canada. If you want to learn about Indigenous People, you have to talk to them."
Fehr challenged people to ask their family, politicians and churches what they are doing tangibly to move toward reconciliation.
Morden's Truth and Reconciliation Observation opened with a Land Acknowledgement, words from Mayor Brandon Burley and the story of Orange Shirt Day, Fehr shared her lived experience and the "Every Child Matters" Flag was raised at the Access Event Centre. The crowd walked from the Rec Centre down 2nd Street to Thornhill Street and up 5th Street back to the Rec Centre on Gilmour Street for lunch.