This article contains references to colonial violence, residential schools, anti-Indigeniety, child death, and suicide.
Today is September 30th: a day that marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation here in Canada. Historically known as Orange Shirt Day, this is a day for reflection and education on our nation’s colonial history, and its effect on Indigenous peoples. By wearing orange, sharing resources, and raising awareness, we honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and the communities affected by these institutions through the ages.
Here at Archiact, we’re gathering as a studio to remind ourselves of the terrible impact of residential schools here and abroad, and to task ourselves with dismantling anti-Indigeneity wherever it stands.
We’ll begin with our official Territory Acknowledgement:
Archiact exists on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Sel̓íl̓witulh Nations. We are grateful to live, work, and play on the traditional lands and waters of these Nations, yet acknowledge that we are uninvited guests benefiting from a history of violent colonisation. As long as we remain on these territories, we commit to upholding the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm values of Respect, Pride, Inclusiveness, Honour, and Shared Responsibility; the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh values of Rich Artistry and Resilience; and the Sel̓íl̓witulh values of Balance, Generosity, Trust, and Decisive Action.
What are residential schools?
Funded by the Canadian government, residential schools were mandatory religious boarding schools from 1894 to 1947. They aimed to assimilate Indigenous children into “Western society.” Children as young as 6 years old were taken away from their families, and stripped of their rich Indigenous culture. They were forbidden to speak their language, forced to give up traditional clothes and practices; boys were forced to cut their hair, and many were given new names. Over decades, children endured years of abuse, malnutrition, and exposure to deadly disease.
The last residential school closed down just a few decades ago.
What effects did they have?
The full extent of damage done by residential schools will never truly be known. Survivors and their families suffered perpetual pain and disadvantages, known as generational trauma. Long-term impacts include family breakdowns, violence, substance abuse, and high risk of suicide. Many languages face extinction due to systemic suppression. Rich traditions and practices were made to seem shameful and dirty, further severing Indigenous peoples from their communities and culture. Thousands of children—entire generations—never returned home.
COMMITTING TO Reconciliation
For Archiact, truth means reflecting honestly on these painful facts, while reconciliation means doing what we can to positively impact Indigenous communities around us and within our industry.
As of today, we are...
Holding a studio-wide gathering to reflect, educate, and raise awareness of the day.
Adding our official Territory Acknowledgement to our website.
Sharing resources such as…
Free daily webinars and discussions during the week of Truth and Reconciliation Day from the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.
Indigenous Canada, a free Coursera course offered by the University of Alberta.
The next chapter of Indigenous representation in video games by Molly C. Beer.
5 Indigenous video games you should be playing by A Tribe Called Geek.
Seeking ongoing opportunities to dismantle anti-Indigeneity in our processes, our products, and our greater communities.
Some of these initiatives are already underway, but there is always more to be done. This is only the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and Every Child Matters.