The year 2020 marks the 24th anniversary of the final closure of the last operating Canadian residential school, located in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, in the year 1996.
Originally established in the late 1800’s, more than 130 residential schools operated across Canada for over 120 years. During this time, more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed into the schools (1).
Jointly operated by the Government of Canada and religious organizations across the nation, the residential school system was a violent and corrupt approach towards the total assimilation of Indigenous children and the ultimate erasure of Indigenous culture. The methods used by the schools to pursue this goal, as officially documented by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CTRC), were abhorrent acts of violence and humiliation against children that would raise a legacy of trauma and pain spanning generations.
The exact number of children who died during their time at the residential schools remains unclear, but is estimated to be greater than 6000 (2). The CRTC documents that many students succumbed to disease and malnourishment exacerbated by abysmal living conditions, while others died as a result of abuse and experimentation. Records show many children perished in fires when a number of schools burned down over the years, and others died by suicide, or while trying to escape (3).
“Children were abused, physically and sexually, and they died in numbers that would not have been tolerated in any school system in the country, or in the world.” – Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (4)
Since the final closure of the residential schools in 1996, steps towards national reconciliation – such as the launch of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008 – have been based in the acknowledgement and commemoration of the painful legacy of the schools across Canada. The documentation, preservation and dissemination of the residential school experience as told by the survivors is essential to understanding and accepting the implications of this dark and extensive period in Canadian history.
Among many ongoing discussions and dedications to the survivors and victims of the Canadian residential Schools, Orange Shirt Day is an annual recognition of the ongoing pursuit of reconciliation and affirmation in Canada.
Orange Shirt Day was born in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013 as a legacy of the St. Joseph Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion. The project was founded by former student Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins in an effort to bring together those whose lives had been negatively impacted by the schools. Specifically, “Events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honor the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation” (5).
Orange Shirt Day was founded as a result of the St. Joseph project, when former student and spokesperson for the Reunion group, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared the experience of her first day at the residential school, “when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl” (6).
September 30th was chosen as the annual Orange Shirt Day to coincide with the returning school year, and to commemorate the time of year in which children were originally taken from their homes to attend the residential schools.
On September 30, 2019, The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted a ceremony in honor of Orange Shirt Day at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. A list commemorating the names of 2,800 Indigenous children who died while attending the residential schools was presented on a 50-metre-long-ceremonial cloth. This ceremony represented an important first step, according to the NCTR, however, there is still a long way to go towards the proper recognition and memorialization of all who were lost to the schools.
Since 2013, Orange Shirt Day has continued to foster ongoing investigation and dialogue surrounding the history and lasting legacy of the residential school system within the Canadian historical landscape. It is a public call to listen, share, and remember those who suffered and now carry the lasting wounds of the government mandated Canadian residential school system, as well as those who never returned home at all.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
Edmonton Police charge 19 year old with trafficking gun used to kill Constables Jordan and Ryan
From the Edmonton Police Service
Charges laid in line of duty deaths
The EPS Firearms Investigations Unit (FIU) has completed their investigation into the origins of the firearm used in the Mar. 16, 2023, officer deaths.
Following the shooting deaths of Const. Brett Ryan and Const. Travis Jordan, FIU launched an investigation into the origins of the gun used by the 16-year-old male shooter.
Early in the investigation, detectives determined a bullet cartridge casing recovered from the scene of a Mar. 12, 2023, shooting at a nearby restaurant (133 Street and 114 Avenue) was forensically matched to the firearm that was recovered at the 132 Street and 114 Avenue apartment where both officers were tragically murdered. Investigators have since confirmed that the suspect in both shootings was the same.
Following several months of extensive investigation, FIU determined that Dennis Okeymow, 19, trafficked the firearm used in both shootings directly to the 16-year-old male shooter prior to Mar. 12.
On. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, police conducted search warrants on Okeymow’s residence, vehicles and cell phone. Okeymow was arrested without incident from the residence and police seized a stolen loaded handgun, ammunition, illegal drugs, $10,000 in cash and other items indicative of drug trafficking.
Okeymow is charged with:
- manslaughter (x3) and criminal negligence causing death (x3) in relation to the deaths of Const. Ryan, Const. Jordan and the 16-year-old male shooter
- criminal negligence causing bodily harm (x2) in relation to the man injured in the restaurant shooting on Mar. 12 and the youth’s mother, who was injured during the Mar. 16 shooting
- firearms trafficking
- unauthorized possession of a firearm
- possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition
- ·other drug trafficking related charges
“In my 20 years in this career, this is the most complex and tragic file I have worked on,” says Staff Sergeant Eric Stewart with the EPS Guns and Gangs Section. “It’s heartbreaking that the trafficking of a firearm has led to multiple deaths and life-altering injuries.”
“The trauma suffered by the impacted families as a result of this one simple transaction is unthinkable.”
FIU would like to thank the RCMP, the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and the many dedicated members of the EPS who assisted with this investigation.
On Sunday, Mar. 12, 2023, at approximately 12:25 a.m., a lone male suspect entered a pizza restaurant in the area of 133 Street and 114 Avenue carrying a firearm. The suspect shot a male employee and then fled the location. EMS attended and transported the injured 55-year-old male to hospital with serious life-threatening injuries.
At approximately 12:47 a.m. on Thursday, Mar. 16, 2023, Const. Travis Jordan and Const. Brett Ryan responded to a family dispute call in an apartment complex near 114 Avenue and 132 Street.
When the two officers arrived, they were met by a 55-year-old female complainant outside of the complex. The two officers then responded to the suite where she resided with her 73-year-old male partner and their 16-year-old son.
Immediately upon arriving at the suite, both constables were shot multiple times by the youth and were immediately incapacitated. The youth then reportedly shot his mother before turning the firearm on himself, taking his own life. The father was not physically injured during the shootings. Neither officer discharged their firearm.
Following 911 calls by multiple reporters, additional police and EMS arrived. One of the injured officers was transported in a police vehicle to hospital, while the other injured officer was taken by ambulance. The female complainant was taken by ambulance to hospital. Soon after arriving at the hospital, both officers were declared deceased.
On Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Edmonton conducted autopsies on both officers. In both cases the cause of death was confirmed to be gunshot wounds with the manner of death being homicide.
On Mar. 22, 2023, the Edmonton Medical Examiner confirmed that the 16-year-old male shooter’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head consistent with being self-inflicted.
The 55-year-old man shot in the restaurant on Mar. 12 survived, but suffered life-altering injuries. The youth’s mother continues to recover from her injuries.
$6.5 billion investment! World’s first ‘net-zero’ ethyelene plant announced for Fort Saskatchewan
Dow Path2Zero investment in Alberta: Joint statement
Premier Danielle Smith, Minister of Energy and Minerals Brian Jean and Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade Matt Jones issued the following statement on the Dow Path2Zero Fort Saskatchewan project:
“We are thrilled that Dow has chosen Alberta for the world’s first net-zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives site.
“Fort Saskatchewan Path2Zero, located in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, will play an important role in expanding Alberta’s natural gas industry, creating thousands of jobs, diversifying our economy and positioning our province as a global hub for petrochemicals.
“At nearly $9 billion, this project is one of the largest private sector investments in Alberta’s history. At peak, this world-class petrochemical facility will create about 6,000 jobs during construction and 400 to 500 full-time jobs when operational. Path2Zero will produce and supply approximately three million metric tonnes of certified low- to zero-carbon emissions polyethylene and ethylene derivatives for customers around the globe while further establishing Alberta as a world leader in emissions-reducing technology like carbon capture, utilization and storage.
“This announcement by Dow is indicative of Alberta’s commitment to attracting investment and creating good jobs while growing and diversifying our economy. Programs like Energy and Minerals’ Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP) and the cross-ministry concierge investment support led by Jobs, Economy and Trade have been integral in Dow’s decision to choose Alberta for this innovative facility. Through APIP, we are issuing a 12 per cent grant, which is approximately $1.8 billion, to help move this investment and technology forward. In addition, we are pleased that Alberta’s skilled workforce, low corporate tax rates, stable industrial carbon pricing system and commitment to support innovation made Alberta the most attractive choice.
“Dow’s final investment decision is proof of the Alberta Advantage, and it will be a major stepping-stone toward meeting our goal of being a global top 10 petrochemical producer. This decision proves what we have been saying for years: Alberta is the best place to invest and do business. We have the workforce, know-how and natural gas feedstock to be a world leader in carbon-neutral petrochemicals.
“This is a huge win for Alberta’s petrochemical sector and clearly demonstrates our business-friendly policies are attracting job-creating investment across the province. We look forward to the beginning of construction in 2024 and are proud to be partnering with Dow to transition away from emissions while decarbonizing petrochemical products and growing our energy industry.”
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