Gordon Neighbourhood House staff, volunteers, and members continue to hold survivors & intergenerational survivors close to our heart as we reckon with the shocking and horrifying crimes committed at Indian Residential Schools in Canada.
These institutions were an assault on the most fundamental principles of humanity. This is a painful time and we can only hope that discoveries and confirmations at burial sites will motivate us all to get involved and demand justice our Indigenous friends and neighbours.
In that spirit, we invite West End community members to join us in the following initiatives in honour of the many children who didn’t make it home; the many children who survived; and the many children who are our future:
- Support Indigenous-led organizations, Leaders, and Knowledge Keepers calling for change and justice. We have compiled a list of national Indigenous-led movements, resources, and local Indigenous-owned businesses in our community to follow and support. We will be adding to this list, amplifying news articles and Indigenous voices through our public media outlets.
- We will be working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues to facilitate community dialogue and learning in the West End. This will include building understanding of what it means to be on unceded Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh territory, including what responsibilities we carry while on this territory. It will also involve looking at colonialism and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada, both historically and as it manifests today, and how to actively resist those systems today.
- We are midway through an organizational audit and action plan to address any relevant Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls to Justice. Indigenous Downtown-West End neighbours are welcome to participate in reviewing the implementation of this audit here at Gordon House.
- We’ve covered the windows of Gordon Neighbourhood House with orange shirts and card stock (pictured above). We encourage neighbours to bring a pen or marker and contribute a message of care and solidarity while following current COVID-19 public health recommendations.
- Our Young Ideas group has started a letter-writing campaign to demand urgency on the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, specifically Actions numbered 71-76 outlining the steps which our Government needs to take to address missing and murdered children and burial sites. Young Ideas is encouraging community members to write letters to your local Member of Parliament, and is providing pre-addressed envelopes, Letter Templates, Letter Tips, pens, and paper.
- We are working with all children in our programming to build understanding of the ‘Every Child Matters’ movement. All children in our Summer Camp programs have been given an orange shirt designed by Indigenous artist KC Hall, with 100% of proceeds benefitting the Urban Native Youth Association. Orange Shirt Day takes place on September 30th, and is an important opportunity to talk to children about the harmful legacy of Residential Schools in Canada. Our child care staff have ordered copies of the book Phyllis’s Orange Shirt, and have compiled resources for parents and families on how to talk to kids about Residential Schools.
- We are continuing to compile educational resources for our neighbors. We encourage you to learn more about the Indian Residential School System by visiting the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as our friends Eddy and Kristin at Victoria Orange Shirt Day.
- We will be building public events and content in the lead-up to Sept. 30th Orange Shirt Day, and supporting partners across the West End in the recognition of this year’s Orange Shirt Day.
- Community members are encouraged and welcomed to join the conversation, including by sharing your ideas about how we can continue to push toward positive change. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (604) 683-2554.
Help-Lines & Support Resources
Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports. The IRSSS can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
Saa’ust Centre, brought to life by the Urban Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee’s community, is an oasis for families and survivors affected by the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
First Nations Health Authority provides culturally safe and trauma-informed cultural, emotional, and mental health services to Indigenous people in BC.
Kuu-Us Crisis Line Society provides crisis services for Indigenous people across BC. Adults and Elders can call 250-723-4050 for support; youth can call 250-723-2040. A toll-free number is available at 1-800-588-8717.
At Vancouver Public Library’s Connection to Kith and Kin experts help Indigenous participants search online records for family documents. Searching can be an emotional experience. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has provided a Resolution Health Support Worker to join the participants during their journey