CW: The following message mentions violence against Indigenous peoples and communities. Please see a list of resources available in Ottawa for Indigenous folks.
Orange Shirt Day is tomorrow, Saturday, June 30, 2023, which is also known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Feminist Institute of Social Transformation (FIST) stands in solidarity with Indigenous communities across the lands known as Canada, as we recognize and raise awareness about Orange Shirt Day. This annual day of remembrance, observed on September 30th, holds profound significance in our collective journey toward truth, healing, and decolonization.
Orange Shirt Day serves as a sombre reminder of the immense violence inflicted by Canada’s colonial legacy and the brutal assimilation policies enacted through the residential school system. The practice of wearing orange shirts originated from the personal experience of Phyllis Webstad, a survivor of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in British Columbia. On her first day at the school in 1973, Phyllis had her vibrant orange shirt stripped from her, symbolizing the deliberate erasure of her Indigenous identity, culture, and dignity.
As Indigenous activist Audra Simpson said, “Indigenous nations were the first feminist nations,” highlighting the intersectionality between feminism and Indigenous struggles.
Today, and every day, this serves as an urgent call for all of us to engage in critical activism and self-reflection, to educate ourselves about the ongoing legacies of colonialism and to actively support the resurgence of Indigenous cultures, languages, and traditions. By wearing an orange shirt, we express solidarity with the survivors and their families, while committing ourselves to the necessary work of dismantling colonial structures and systems of power.
Every day is Orange Shirt Day when you are on native land.
These Ottawa-specific resources provide culturally appropriate mental health support for Indigenous individuals. It’s recommended to reach out to the respective organizations to access their services and determine which resources align best with your specific needs. Additionally, consider checking with local Indigenous organizations, community centers, or health clinics for additional free and accessible mental health resources available in your area.
- Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition: The Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition is a network of organizations and individuals dedicated to supporting the Indigenous community. They can provide information and referrals to free mental health resources in the Ottawa area. Contact them for guidance and assistance: Website – http://ottawaaboriginalcoalition.ca/
- Indigenous Mental Health Support: Indigenous Services Canada provides free mental health support through their Indigenous Mental Wellness Team. They offer counseling, crisis intervention, and cultural support services. You can reach out to them for assistance: Website – https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1576087968832/1576087995833
- Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health: The Wabano Centre offers culturally sensitive mental health services for Indigenous individuals and families. They provide counseling, therapy, support groups, and healing programs rooted in Indigenous traditions and practices. Contact them for more information on their mental health services: Website – https://wabano.com/
- Minwaashin Lodge: In addition to their broader support services, Minwaashin Lodge offers culturally appropriate mental health counseling for Indigenous women and children who have experienced trauma, domestic violence, or other challenges. Reach out to them for mental health support: Website – https://www.minlodge.com/
- Tungasuvvingat Inuit: Tungasuvvingat Inuit provides mental health and wellness programs specifically for the Inuit community in Ottawa. They offer counseling services, support groups, crisis intervention, and cultural programs that promote healing and well-being. Explore their mental health resources: Website – https://www.tungasuvvingatinuit.ca/
- Indigenous Services Canada – Ontario Region: Indigenous Services Canada’s Ontario Region provides mental health services and resources for Indigenous individuals. They offer support through their Mental Wellness Teams, which provide counseling, crisis intervention, and cultural support. Contact them for more information: Website – https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1576087968832/1576087995833
- Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy: The Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy, funded by Indigenous Services Canada, supports mental health and wellness initiatives for Indigenous communities. They offer various resources, programs, and services focused on healing, trauma-informed care, and cultural revitalization. Explore their mental health resources: Website – https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1576087968832/1576087985122