The afternoon of September 23, Nunavut’s Ministers and MLAs gathered outside the Nunavut Legislative Assembly in Iqaluit to raise an Every Child Matters flag in recognition of Canadian residential schools, reconciliation and ongoing Indigenous struggles.
Speaker of the Legislature Tony Akoak’s office had this flag specifically made for the occasion. Arctic Ventures provided orange shirts for the event.
“There’s so much focus on reconciliation and this is just a step in the right direction to make sure people take a moment to reflect on how children are being raised, what’s happened in the past and what’s going to happen in the future, where we’re going to overcome some of the challenges,” said Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes, who raised the flag.
Hickes thanked Speaker Akoak’s office for helping make this flag raising possible.
“When we say Every Child Matters, it’s not just a catchphrase. We all have to participate to make children’s lives better all across this country and around the world,” Hickes added.
National Truth and Reconciliation Day (September 30) was first established in 2013 to promote awareness and education surrounding the deaths as well as the physical and sexual abuse that occurred under Canada’s residential school system.
The use of the orange shirt was inspired by the account of residential school Survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad, whose new orange shirt was taken away from her on her first day of residential school in 1973 and never returned. The orange shirt since 2013 has been used to symbolize the forced attempted assimilation of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.
The rediscovery of thousands of unmarked graves of Indigenous children on residential school grounds across the country in 2021 led to the Federal Government to declare September 30 a statutory holiday for federal workers.