How come we have this day?

“Many tried to run away to freedom, to home of far away

Some made it but very few, but many died along the way

Oh how can this happen in a land of plenty, a land that is there supposedly there for the people”

Poem by Bud Napoleon, Cree Elder

How come we have this day? When Phyllis Webstad was a little girl, she had to go to residential school*. From 1831 to 1996, over 130 federally funded, church-run residential schools were attended by more than 150,000 Indigenous children. The consequences of these schools are still with us today, even though they were “officially” closed in the nineties. Phyllis was lucky, she came home. Many did not*. We wear orange to remember*.

In the past, our messaging for this day has been to pause and reflect. But intentions are not enough. Incrementalism is not enough. More action is required than simply doing a “land acknowledgement*.” We can start by asking how to “show up.”

Moving past reconciliation can begin by considering the meaning of the word. Indigenous scholar Jo-ann Archibald shares that reconciliation means only “restoring friendly relationships” vs. the authentic hard work and action to redress harms. SCBC is doing the work to show up and not only restore our relationships but also to acknowledge the harm caused to the land, Indigenous people and ecosystems in the name of “conservation.”

We are grateful to kQwa’st’not and Bud Napoleon, who have allowed us to borrow their teachings. To all our Indigenous teachers, colleagues, allies and friends thank you for your guidance and input, more importantly for doing the heavy lifting. It’s time for everyone to do the work.

Consider exploring these links and taking meaningful action.


A story of resiliency


A reflection of grief


A statement of accountability from Sierra Club BC


An invitation to cross the bridge towards understanding and respect


Our “canoe” is really tippy, so how can we work together? Here is a process of a pathway forward

We invite you to explore these gifts/resources and join us on this journey towards change.

If you would like to do more, our former Board Chair, K’aayhlt’aa Haanas (Valine Brown) invites all settlers and allies to consider joining the One Day’s Pay campaign by donating today’s compensation to an Indigenous-led organization.

If you would like to engage with more resources, we invite you to explore the following:

Support for residential school survivors and their families is available through the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. Call 1-800-721-0066 or 1-866-925-4419 for the 24-7 crisis line. The KUU-US Crisis Line Society also offers 24-7 support at 250-723-4050 for adults, 250-723-2040 for youth, or toll-free at 1-800-588-8717.