Jul 14, 2021

Orange lighting has been installed at the House Post to show support for the communities, families, and individuals impacted by Residential Schools. This is one small way snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College is working to address the historical and contemporary legacy of the residential school system and the tragic impacts of colonization.

We are committed to our accountability in implementing the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We will also hold others accountable to their own action on these necessary changes that must happen if we want to decolonize the colonial narrative around Indigenous Peoples.

The colour orange plays a significant role in raising awareness about the history and truth of Residential Schools originating from the Orange Shirt Day/Every Child Matters campaign – a day for survivors and all those affected by residential schools to be reaffirmed that their voices have been heard, and they are not forgotten.

“I have been involved in Orange Shirt Day/Every Child Matters events since their inception in 2013. That was almost eight years ago,” said Conor Kerr, Executive Director, Indigenous Education and Services. “Awareness is great and all but there is more to this if we’re truly honouring those who lost their lives due to genocidal state actions, those who survived, and the communities that were ripped apart in the assimilation process. What systemic changes have been made during this time? How are we moving beyond the idea of awareness and into direct action that will create a better future for the next generations of Indigenous youth? How are we addressing the ongoing impacts of the Child Intervention system that continues to remove Indigenous children from community and their families? How are we creating opportunities to honour the voices of our Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Cultural Advisors? How are we honouring the voices of our youth and creating the opportunities for them to have the future success that they deserve?”

The permanent orange lighting recognizes that these important conversations should not be confined to one day, but should be amplified every single day.

"Education is a powerful tool that can be misused, as we’ve seen in the Residential School systems. As we remember those that suffered, it is important that past mistakes are not repeated,” said Gail Sparrow, Special Advisor to Langara College. “snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ remains committed to participate in reconciliaction. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are continually examining our own practices to ensure our community moves forward in a good way."

The continued confirmation of unmarked graves at former Indian Residential Schools are stark reminders of the urgency and significance of the work that we undertake as learners and educators – to not only acknowledge this catastrophe, but also to understand that this history is ongoing and continues to impact our students, friends, families, communities, and loved ones. The genocidal impacts of Indian Residential Schools continues to deeply affect Indigenous communities.

For those in our own community who are seeking support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Gathering Space at indigenous@langara.ca or Counselling Services. Employees continue to have confidential access to EFAP services and resources, 24/7.

Additional support

  • Residential School Survivors Society:reception@irsss.ca, or 1.800.721.0066.
  • Residential School Survivors and Family: 1.866.925.4419 (24-hour crisis line).
  • KUU-US Crisis Line Society: 1.800.588.8717 (Toll-free), 250.723.4050 (Adult Line).
  • Métis Crisis Line: 1.833.MÉTISBC (1.833.638.4722).
  • Kids Help Phone: Provides a texting option for Indigenous youth and adults to connect with a First Nations, Metis, or Inuit crisis responder. Youth text 68 68 68 and adults text 741 741 with the word "First Nations" or "Metis" or "Inuit" to be connected to a crisis responder from their nation if one is available (Indigenous crisis responders are not guaranteed but will be prioritized). 
  • Wellness Together Canada: Free mental health support that is available 24/7.   
  • Immediate crisis support for Indigenous Peoples through Hope to Wellness available at 1.855.242.3310  
  • Hope for Wellness Help Line: Free counselling available 24/7 to all Indigenous peoples, including First NationsMétis, and Inuit peoples across Canada. Online chat or phone line available.
  • Research at SFU on this topic. 
  • Grassroots fundraising on Vancouver Island with a GoFundMe page:  (grassroots/direct to community funding is much more likely to get this work done quickly than federal pathways).
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society donation page, so that they can continue to do their important work as this research unfolds in the years to come.
  • Recent resources from the UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.