The Orange T-Shirt

 

Sunday, September 30th is Orange T-Shirt Day in Canada. Many people around Canada put on a “Orange T-Shirt” with the slogan: “Every Child matters.” This is to represent indigenous people who were taken away during the 60’s scoop movement. They were placed into foster homes and residential schools.

Many schools and organizations across Canada also hold assemblies to make awareness of these traumatic events in Canadian history, and to help make a better future for the generations to come.

We honour the child who suffered at the hands of the school system. We honour the siblings that grew up without knowing eachother and became estranged. We honour the parent (s) that was / were left behind who had to go on feeling empty not ever knowing if they would ever see their families again. The abuse that took place during this historic event was horrific.

As a daughter of a mother who is a indigenous woman – my mother was also part of the 60’s scoop movement. She grew up without a family. My siblings and I are her family. Were the only family she ever really knew. She was able to reunite with her siblings in her 40’s, but not all of them.

I never knew my grandma. I never knew where I came from. It wasn’t until I was twelve years old. I even knew my mom was a indigenous woman. I was able to start communicating with them then. I just remember people always asking me if I was adopted. My skin is pale, and my mother has always looked like a indigenous woman.

My grandma died young. I can’t imagine the pain my mom went through growing up without a mother, and never really even knowing her own mother. My mother’s story is real. My mother’s pain is real. It’s an important part of Canadian history and it’s time to share it.

Losing my mom over the summer has been a long road to healing for me from grief, but it is nothing compared to what her and her family went through growing up. One of my cousins is an artist and he created a: WITNESS BLANKET. If you search: Witness Blanket on google you will be able to find it. Each blanket showcases pieces and stories related to the “Residential Schools.”

Over the past few months I have been looking for my purpose with my mom no longer present, and I have taken it upon myself to continue educating myself on my families history and the history of all indigenous people. I’m trying to build myself a library on books about reserves, residential schools, and educate myself as much as possible on the 60’s scoops movements.

Growing up with a mother who suffered many years in silence has made me into the humble woman I’ve become. I want to see everyone wearing Orange Shirts on Sunday.

 

 

Irene Mielke
 

Irene enjoys writing and inspiring everybody that she meets. She has wisdom for days when it comes to life. She loves to read and support others in becoming the best version of themselves. She also loves to go the gym and her favourite sport is soccer.

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