This Orange Shirt Day, listen to Survivor Stories

The most recent challenge offered up by the Indian Horse Next150 Challenge comes from Edna Manitowabi who played the role of “Naomi” in Indian Horse. Edna Manitowabi, Anishnaabekwe, is Bear Clan, a Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother of Ojibway/Odawa ancestry originally from Wikwemikong, Manitoulin Island.

Edna Manitowabi

Edna’s Challenge

“I challenge you to listen to, watch, read, and share the stories of Residential School Survivors. Really try to learn from and share the teachings that these Survivors are choosing to pass on. Please share these stories with kind regard and respect.”

About This Challenge

Residential Schools and day schools operated all throughout Canada from 1840 until 1996. Over 150,000 Indigenous children ranging in age from 4-20 were forced to go through the system. These schools existed not for the purposes of igniting the imagination of their students or even encouraging learning among them. According to the TRC, “These Residential Schools were created for the purpose of separating Aboriginal children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture.”


Residential Schools are sometimes called a ‘sad chapter of Canada’s history.’ I understand why that metaphor is used, but it sometimes makes me feel as though Canada thinks we have moved on from these stories or that these stories are something we can simply turn the page on. Survivors of Residential Schools are still with us and they have more than a chapter’s worth of stories to tell.

Listening to the stories of Residential School Survivors is important for everyone in Canada. The Indigenous children who were forced to endure some of Canada’s cruellest policies in Residential Schools have voices to be heard and stories to share. Many Survivors choose to not speak about their time in Residential School – it may be too painful or too personal to share – but many others are willing to share their own stories and, in some cases, revisit their own trauma for the benefit of this country as a whole. Hear the truth and pass it on; this #OrangeShirtDay, listen to #SurvivorStories.

It can be incredibly difficult to listen to these stories, I urge you to be kind to yourself and share on social media with kind regard for your followers and networks who will see your posts – you never know where someone on the other side of your screen is at in a journey of dealing with trauma. Please care for yourself throughout this process should you choose to take on this challenge.


Please be aware of your emotional response to the material shared on the website. Be gentle with yourself. The website will be there tomorrow, so please go through the information at a pace that does not cause you emotional harm. There is no rush.

If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

Crisis Support

Residential School Survivor Support Line:  1-866-925-4419

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24/7 Help Line: 1-855-242-3310

Emotional, cultural and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.

Watch the Survivor Stories shared here.

And to learn from survivors and leaders in our own community, watch the documentary that was prepared through Signal Hill Elementary, PUNPÚNTWAL.

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