The B.C. Lions are trying to raise awareness about the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
The CFL team’s vice-president, George Chayka, says players will wear orange tape when they face the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Vancouver at their game on Sept. 24.
He says the Roughriders will also wear orange tape to raise awareness ahead of the day established to honour survivors of Canada’s residential school system.
The Lions are providing 350 tickets to survivors and their families to attend the game.
Chayka says the team is also making a $20,000 donation to the Orange Shirt Society, which was launched by survivor Phyllis Webstad in Williams Lake, B.C., in 2013.
Chayka says the team has commissioned a special orange T-shirt for the game with an Indigenous rendition of the B.C. Lions logo was designed by Corinne Hunt, who co-created the medals for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
"We're gong to fill this house and we're going to roar for all of those children that didn't make it home from school. We're going to stand up with solidarity and show that Every Child Matters" – Hli Haykwhl Ẃii Xsgaak, Minister Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport. @melaniejmark pic.twitter.com/2Eeuw8Njj7
— BC LIONS (@BCLions) September 16, 2021
Premier John Horgan told a news conference on Thursday that the collaboration between the Lions, the Ending Violence Association of BC and Indigenous leaders helps mark the day of truth and reconciliation so Canadians will remember that every child matters.
“On the 30th of September we will always remember what happened in Canada,” he said. “We will not turn our backs on our history. We will embrace it, we will learn from it and will be better people, and a better country and better citizens.”
Horgan said he grew up in the province’s school system and studied history at university, but he did not learn about residential schools where Indigenous children were forcibly sent until an elder told him about them in 2006.
“We need to change that,” he said, adding the discovery of more than 200 unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May has brought greater awareness about what happened at the institutions.
Several other First Nations in Canada have since reported finding suspected remains or unmarked graves around former residential schools in their territories.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2021.