Discussion on importance of Orange Shirt Day set for Parksville Museum

Annishnawbeg Nation elder Samuel Stevens to lead talks

The Parksville Museum will host a discussion on the importance of Orange Shirt Day.

The founder of Stevens & Company Law Firm and elder of the Annishnawbeg Nation, Samuel Stevens, will lead an informal discussion on the importance of Orange Shirt Day and residential school survivors. The discussion will be at the Parksville Museum courtyard on Wednesday (Sept. 30) from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“The origin of the day is to remind Canadians that residential schools, a history of our nation, has a legacy of changing Indigenous culture with disastrous effects,” said Stevens.

Both Stevens and his wife, Mary-Ellen Campbell, president of the Parksville Museum, believed the museum was a good place to facilitate such a conversation, as they recognize that the museum itself is on unceded First Nations land. For approximately eight years, Stevens worked exclusively in residential school claims.

READ MORE: B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Stevens will discuss the history of residential schools, from when they began in the 1800s, to when the last one closed in 1996.

“About 150,000 children attended residential schools, from when they first opened to when they closed,” he said.

The museum is hoping to have an elder from Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation present before the discussion and hopes to build a working relationship with the First Nation and in the future may be able to display its history and traditions at the museum as well.

For those wanting to participate in the discussion, Parksville Museum is located at 1245 Island Highway East. In an email, Campbell said that COVID policies are in place, and that masks are welcome but not mandatory. She also advised that admission is free, and that attendees bring their own chairs.

Orange Shirt Day came from the events of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion, that took place at Williams Lake in May 2013. The events were to remember the residential school experience, and to allow for the healing of its survivors and their families.


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