VIDEO: Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony in Centennial Square

Thank You for Joining us

Thank you to all those who wore orange and attended the Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony on Thursday, September 30 from noon to 2:30 p.m. in Centennial Square.

Xe xe Smun' eem means "Sacred Children" in the Cowichan or Quw utsun language.

The ceremony included a blessing by Elder May Sam of the Malahat Nation, a land acknowledgement and welcome by Brianna Bear of the Songhees Nation, and the Orange Shirt Day flag raising followed by 15 drum beats and a minute of silence to honour and remember those who did not survive residential school. The flag was lowered to half-mast after the ceremony. 

The event included Indigenous and non-Indigenous performances, and Indigenous guest speakers who shared their personal experiences with residential schools and reconciliation. The ceremony was emceed by Indigenous Perspectives Society Executive Director Rachelle Dallaire who is from the Montagnais people in lower Quebec and is an intergenerational survivor. 

Event organizers Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray spoke to the importance of raising awareness about residential schools to honour the more than 6,000 children who died, and the sacrifices that were made by 150,000 residential school survivors and their families across Canada.

All were welcome to this free event. Masks were recommended.

View the event poster [PDF - 2 MB]. Artwork by Bear Horne. 

Temporary Road Closures 
To accommodate the ceremony, on September 30 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Douglas Street was closed to vehicle traffic from Fisgard to Pandora, and Pandora was closed from Douglas to Government. Pedestrian and cyclist access will be maintained. Learn more.

Live Stream / Video of the Ceremony

The community was invited to tune in to our live stream of the ceremony at noon on the City of Victoria's Facebook page.

A video of the ceremony is below. 

About 

Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. September 30 was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools.

Starting this year, Orange Shirt Day coincides with Canada’s new federal statutory holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. This day is an important step in the reconciliation process. It provides an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour Indigenous survivors, their families and communities.

Guest Speakers

Raven and Paul Lacerte
Raven and her father Paul Lacerte are members of the Carrier First Nation in Northern B.C. and belong to the Bear Clan and Caribou Clan. They are the Co-Founders and National Ambassadors of the Moose Hide Campaign, a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys and all Canadians who are standing up against violence towards women and children. Note: Raven Lacerte was unable to join us. Paul's daughter Sage Lacerte, an intergenerational survivor, spoke on stage with her father. 

Elder John Elliott 
John Elliott is an Elder Advisor for the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council and works with other respected Elders interpreting stories and history into Indigenous Language to form resource materials. For more than 40 years, he has worked on language preservation, helping develop programs, teachers, online tools, funding opportunities and language courses. Elliott is currently Chairman for the Saanich Native Heritage Society and a Board Member for the First Peoples Cultural Council. Additionally, he teaches SENĆOŦEN at the University of Victoria and the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board.

 

Carl Mashon
Carl Mashon is a sixties scoop survivor of Cree ancestry (Saddle Lake First Nation) and was raised in a non-Indigenous rural community in southern Alberta. Mashon served for 16 years at the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and as General Manager, led projects and community development at provincial and national levels. He joined the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation in 2017 and has recently accepted a temporary assignment as an Acting Director in the Community and Social Innovation Branch.

Rachelle Dallaire - Emcee 
Rachelle Dallaire is from the Montagnais people in lower Quebec. She brings more than 18 years of management and leadership experience to the community and her work as Indigenous Perspectives Society’s Executive Director. Dallaire has extensive front line service experience that informs her leadership from her early work with marginalized communities including women in the sex trade, corrections, and homeless communities. As an intergenerational trauma survivor, she has worked extensively to educate on and support reconciliatory efforts. 

Performances 

Nicole Mandryk
Nicole Mandryk is Anishinaabe, Irish and Ukrainian and her traditional name is Niibinobinesiik. She is a visual artist who is dedicated to Anishinaabe art practices. Mandryk is inspired by Anishinaabe stories, art, land, language, and songs. She has been engaged in performative arts through Indigenous showcases and has been asked by community to compose and share songs. These songs have been sung by “The Wildflowers”, “ ANSWER” and the Lafayette String Quartet for the project“ B.K Weigel/Lafayette String Quartet Legacy Project”. Mandryk is also an emerging beader. 

Lindsay Lichty 
Lindsay Lichty has been a grateful visitor on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen Peoples since 2014. Lindsay carries German and British ancestry from her father’s lineage, and Salvadoran ancestry from her mother’s lineage. For Lindsay, singing is a way to connect with the spirits of others through the exchange of the life force of the breath. A choir director once told her, “sometimes when there are no words to say, there is a song to sing.” 

Westwind Intertribal Drum
Westwind Intertribal Drum is a family drum. The family comes from a long lineage of pow wow people. Their late grandfather, Ernie Bertrum, was from the Pullalup (P-U-AL-UP) and Yakama (YAK-A-MA) Nations. He brought the drum and teachings to this territory and to keep his culture alive he would sing with his children. Many of of the family began pow wow with their late Uncle Joe Henry as the Thunderbird Singers and Dancers. Later they formed Westwind Intertribal with lead singer, the late Ernie Alphonse. On September 30, they will sing and dance to honour residential school survivors and those who did not make it home. They will also honour all those who have for generations kept culture alive and vibrant.

Victoria Children's Choir
The Victoria Children's Choir will perform during the ceremony. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the Victoria Children's Choir provides the highest standards of music education, immersing their choristers in the transformative world of choral music, in a dynamic and supportive environment. The Victoria Children's Choir is a member of Choral Canada and the BC Choral Federation.

About Orange Shirt Day

The Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters initiative grew out of Phyllis Webstad’s account of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of St. Joseph Mission residential school, during a commemoration in Williams Lake, BC in 2013. Since then, Orange Shirt Day has become an opportunity to keep the discussion happening about all aspects of residential schools.

Residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and friend Kristin Spray are organizing the Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters event, which they developed in 2015 while attending the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College. This is the fifth consecutive year that the City of Victoria is supporting the event to mark the City’s commitment to reconciliation. Last year, the event was held virtually and broadcast live on the City’s Facebook page.

Orange Shirt Day T-Shirts, Hoodies and Books

Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day T-shirts and hoodies designed by artist Bear Horne, Every Child Matters orange blankets and The Orange Shirt Story children’s book by Phyllis Webstad will be available for purchase at the event. All proceeds go towards supporting this annual initiative.

For more information on Orange Shirt Day and where you can purchase these items in the community, visit: victoriaorangeshirtday.com.

Community Partners

Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day community partners include the City of Victoria, Big Wheel Burger, Caffé Fantastico, Discovery Coffee, Fabricland, Goldstream Gazette, Imagine Studio Café, Red Barn Market and Victory Barbers and Brand. 

Special Thanks To

Amelia Lee Boutique, Artisans Flower Shop - Sooke, Barb’s Buns - Salt Spring Island, Capital Bike, Capital Regional District, Delhi Restaurant, Gordon Neighbourhood House - Vancouver, Ma Yoga, Migration Boutique - Victoria, Moose Hide Campaign, One Yoga, Plutos, Politanos Café, Soap for Hope Canada, Used Victoria