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Alberta

Orange Shirt Day – Acknowledging the Lasting Legacy of the Canadian Residential School System

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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 CTRC documents that many students succumbed to disease and malnourishment exacerbated by abysmal living conditions, while others died as a result of abuse. 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.

Alberta

Cross-country skiers to pay for parking to use groomed trails in Kananaskis, Alta.

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KANANASKIS, Alta. — The Alberta government says skiers will need to pay for parking to have groomed cross-country trails in the popular Kananaskis Country.

Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon says the province has entered into a one-year partnership with Nordiq Alberta to groom winter trails in the park system west of Calgary.

To support their operations, Nordiq Alberta will start charging $10 a day and $50 for the season to park at trailhead lots in several areas by Dec. 1.

Cross-country ski trail grooming was one of several cuts to parks in the provincial budget last March.

NDP critic Marlin Schmidt says the introduction of fees for cross-country skiing in Kananaskis is just the start of the United Conservative government charging Albertans to access parks.

He says the province is prioritizing corporate tax cuts over the protection of Alberta parks.

Some sporting goods stores across the country have already noticed an increasing interest in ski equipment as people search for ways to get outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Former MP Rob Anders accused of not reporting $750K in income for tax purposes

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CALGARY — Tax authorities allege former Conservative MP Rob Anders failed to report more than $750,000 in net income over five years, court documents show. 

Anders faces five charges, including tax evasion. Some of the charges date back to his time as a member of Parliament.  

Anders, 48, was elected as a Reform MP in 1997 and went on to to represent his Calgary riding until 2015.  

He did not appear in person at his first court date Friday, but was represented by a lawyer who indicated he had just received disclosure on the matter.  

Anders has reserved his plea and the case was set over to Nov. 20.  

The government alleges that in 2012, 2013, and 2014 Anders under-reported his income, which led to multiple charges of making false statements on a tax return.   

Prosecutors further allege that between 2012 and 2018, he evaded payment of taxes, and between 2012 and 2015 he claimed refunds or credits he wasn’t entitled to receive.   

An application to obtain a search warrant for Anders’s Calgary home was filed in March 2013 by the Canada Revenue Agency and outlines some of the allegations in the investigation. 

The charges stem from an audit in 2012 and 2013 that found reported net rental losses on properties in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario at the same time as there were “unexplained” deposits in Anders’s bank account.  

“I reviewed the history of the rental income and rental expenses reported by Mr. Anders and noted he had reported a net loss on his rental properties every year for the 2001 to 2015 tax years inclusive,” wrote the case investigator in the court document.  

“I have reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Anders has understated his income.”  

The document estimates the unreported income at $752,694. 

None of the allegations in the 35-page document has been proven in court.

 In 2012, members of Parliament made about $157,000 a year, and by 2014 they were making about $163,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 30, 2020.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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