‘Ciw Wasisok | Mi'guwetelamanej mi'juwaji'g

Every Child Matters: Remembering the Children

Content warning: This event relates to Indian Residential Schools and deals with topics which may cause trauma to readers due to its troubling subject matter.

The Wolastoqey term “Nmoskeyin” and Mi’kmaq term “Meskoltiek” both translate to “I’m sorry”, which will be our gift to survivors and their families. This sentiment requires a pledge that goes beyond words; it requires genuine awareness and knowledge of all harms caused by the residential school experience that continues to haunt Indigenous communities in many ways.

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, Canada designated Sept. 30 National Truth and Reconciliation Day to provide an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.

Orange shirt day originates from the testimony of Phyllis Webstad, from the Stwecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In 1973, on her first day at St. Joseph’s residential school in Wiliams Lake, BC, six-year-old Phyllis wore her new orange shirt gifted to her by her grandmother for the occasion. When she arrived at school, she was stripped of her orange shirt, her hair was cut and she never saw her shirt again. Phyllis’ story is emblematic of children’s experiences at residential schools across Canada.

It is appropriate that the news of these children’s deaths and the finding of their remains in unmarked graves across Canada has initiated a time of national mourning. In the spirit of building relationships and processing this grief on a more local level, UNB staff, faculty and students will gather with Wabanaki peoples in ceremony to honour survivors like Phyllis Webstad and pay tribute to the children who did not return home from residential schools.

Commemorative event

On Sept. 30 – which is both Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – the University of New Brunswick will be closed, and a commemorative ceremony will be held on both campuses to honor the survivors of residential schools and to commemorate the children who did not return home.

Members of the community are invited to join this in-person event on the Fredericton campus, or in Saint John where there will be a live stream event to join the Elders, Residential School Survivors and community from Fredericton virtually.

To participate, we are encouraging the UNB community to write their reflections on an orange heart that will be provided at the event. They will then be placed in a commemorative space where they will be displayed. In addition, there will also be traditional smudging offered.

If you are unable to attend the event in person, contact mwc@unb.ca to submit your tribute.

Date: Sept. 30, 2022
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Fourth Floor, Performance Gym, Richard J. CURRIE CENTER (Fredericton);
Ganong Hall Lecture Theatre (Saint John)

*A medicine walk is scheduled to follow the event in Saint John. You must RSVP to participate in the medicine walk by emailing t.ross@unb.ca 

Please be advised that anyone attending this in-person event will be required to wear a face mask in indoor shared spaces as per UNB’s latest COVID-19 requirements. See UNB face mask requirements for more information.

For those not comfortable attending an in-person event, please join us through the livestream.

Display your orange hearts

As an expression of our strides toward a better tomorrow, we encourage our UNB community to place an orange heart in residence and office windows around our campuses.

Adding these hearts to our windows was an idea put forth by the Indigenous elders and leaders in our UNB community. This is a gesture to honour the lives of the children who never returned home along with the families and communities who are mourning the discovery of their remains.

All faculty, staff & students can pick up an orange heart at the following locations on campus:

Saint John

  • Office of the Registrar
  • Oland Hall 132

Fredericton

  • Registrar’s Office
  • Security Office
  • Student Services