The Every Child Matters flag was raised at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium this week in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples across Canada.
The orange flag will be flown alongside the university’s and Varsity Blues’ flags until Sept. 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, when all flags across the three campuses will be lowered to half-mast in memory of all the Indigenous children who perished in residential schools and those who survived.
Professor Gretchen Kerr, dean of the U of T Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE), said the raising of the Every Child Matters flag was an important sign of support for Indigenous communities.
“Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of the Indian residential school system is a vital component of the reconciliation process,” said Kerr. “It’s both an opportunity to honour the intergenerational survivors and to commemorate those who didn’t return home.
“It’s also a time for settlers to reflect on taking action to strengthen relationships with Indigenous Peoples and build a better future together. I encourage all students, staff and faculty members of KPE to attend Truth and Reconciliation events where their schedule permits and to spend some time reflecting on their own efforts towards reconciliation.”
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day will be commemorated on Sept. 30 across U of T’s three campuses.
Hart House will host a university-wide event open to all students, librarians, faculty librarians and staff across the three campuses. The keynote speaker will be Brenda Wastasecoot, an assistant professor at the Centre for Indigenous Studies.
The tri-campus event, which can be attended in-person in Hart House’s Great Hall or viewed via livestream, will also include remarks from Kelly Hannah-Moffat, vice-president of people strategy, equity and culture, and Alexandra Gillespie, U of T vice-president and principal of U of T Mississauga. Varsity Stadium also plans to livestream the event under the concourse. Members of the U of T community will be asked to present their T-card at the doors.
At U of T Scarborough, there are several events planned for the lead-up to Sept. 30. They include a Sept. 26 workshop called “Walking the Talk” that will use an Indigenous framework to unpack short examples around answering the Calls to Action on campus and a Sept. 29 screening of Rumble: the Indians Who Rocked the World, which is co-presented by the department of arts, culture and media and the Indigenous Outreach Program.
The Indigenous Centre at U of T Mississauga, meanwhile, has a limited number of tickets for a public virtual tour of the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont. The centre has also compiled a list of resources to help the U of T Mississauga community prepare for Orange Shirt Day.
All members of the U of T community – and Canadians nationwide – are encouraged to wear an orange shirt on Sept. 30 to affirm that “Every Child Matters.” The U of T Bookstore, in partnership with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, will have a limited supply of Orange Shirt Day shirts available for purchase. All proceeds from the sales of the shirts are being directed to Indigenous community organizations.
U of T community members are also invited to use the Orange Shirt Day icon as their profile photo and use the virtual backdrop on Teams or Zoom calls the week of Sept. 26.
On Oct. 3, Hart House farm will host the U of T Indigenous Community Gathering for Indigenous students, staff, faculty and librarians. The event is organized and supported by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Hart House, the Faculty of Arts & Science, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Woodsworth College, U of T Mississauga Indigenous Centre and First Nations House.