CRD Statement for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sep 25, 2023

Victoria, BC– On September 30, known as Orange Shirt Day and now observed as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we pause to remember the profound and painful history of Canada’s Indigenous residential schools. We acknowledge the enduring intergenerational trauma that survivors and their descendants bear to this very day.

The removal of Indigenous children from their families and their coerced attendance at residential schools stands as a dark chapter in our history—an act recognized by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as an attempt at cultural genocide. Within our region, children were forcibly taken from their families and sent to these schools where they were subjected to unspeakable abuses.

The Kuper Island Indian Residential School, located on Kuper Island (now known as Penelakut Island), operated from 1890 to 1975. According to information obtained from the BC Archives, children who attended this school experienced profound isolation from their communities and traumatic separation from their families. They were forbidden to speak their Indigenous language. They were neglected, underfed and often faced sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. Approximately one-third of the students succumbed to tuberculosis, a devastating disease within these institutions. A survey conducted in 1896 revealed that out of 264 former students, a staggering 107 had died. The reverberations of this trauma continue to ripple through our region, haunting survivors and their descendants.

“To achieve the first step towards reconciliation we must hear the words of the person who has received many harms then we must reflect together on what words we receive and not who was speaking. Reconciliation comes when we look at the root and not the end result of some actions,” said Eddy Charlie, a survivor of the Kuper Island Indian Industrial School. “Hear the words of all who are affected by trauma so you can understand the whole story and not just various chapters and remember you are seeing the effects of trauma and being a part of the circle is way different than being told about it. Sit and hear the stories of the trauma that residential school caused before you make any statements or judgements.”

The Capital Regional District (CRD) proudly flies the Xe Xe Smun' Eem "Our Sacred Children" flag for truth and reconciliation from September 26 to October 4. We are deeply honoured to borrow this powerful symbol from Eddy Charlie and his friend Kristin Spray, co-organizers of Victoria Orange Shirt Day and Xe Xe Smun' Eem.

Designed by Tsawout artist Bear Horne, the flag embodies profound symbolism—the bear to help us follow the right path, the eagle to help us have vision of a bright future, the hummingbird to keep our mind, body and spirit healthy and the flower to feed the connection of all these elements. This marks the third year we have been entrusted with the privilege of flying this flag.

"I am honoured by the permission to fly this flag, and I hope it serves as a poignant reminder to take the time to listen and delve deeper into the enduring impacts of residential schools,” said CRD Board Chair Colin Plant.  “As we strive to build respectful government-to-government relationships with First Nations in our region, we acknowledge the truth and enduring legacy of these institutions."

In observance of this important day of reflection and remembrance, flags will fly at half-mast on September 30. The CRD acknowledges the profound harm inflicted upon Indigenous peoples by Canada's residential schools and the ongoing impacts and intergenerational trauma that persist within Indigenous communities.

The CRD remains steadfast in our commitment to listening, learning, and forging a path toward stronger relationships with the First Nations on whose traditional territories we operate. Together, we strive for a future where reconciliation is more than a word; it's a lived reality, where the truth is recognized, the wounds of the past heal, and the respect for Indigenous self-determination grows stronger.

You can learn more about the Kuper Island Indian Residential School here:

 For more information on Victoria Orange Shirt Day go to or follow @victoriaorangeshirtday on Instagram.

The CRD delivers regional, sub-regional and local services to 13 municipalities and three electoral areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Governed by a 24-member Board of Directors, the CRD works collaboratively with First Nations and government partners to enable sustainable growth, foster community well-being, and develop cost-effective infrastructure while continuing to provide core services to residents throughout the region. Visit us online at


For media inquiries, please contact:
Andy Orr, Senior Manager
CRD Corporate Communications
Tel: 250.360.3229
Cell: 250.216.5492

Photo caption:  The Capital Regional District (CRD) proudly flies the Xe Xe Smun' Eem "Our Sacred Children" flag for truth and reconciliation from September 26 to October 4.

  • Xe Xe Smun Eem Our Sacred Children flag flying
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