NNOC Junior Chief Brooklyn Linklater represented NCN Chief & Council at the MKO Truth and Reconciliation event September 30, 2023. She gave a very powerful and emotionally charged speech.

“ Good morning everyone. My name is Brooklyn Linklater, and i’m here on behalf of Chief Angela Levasseur who unfortunately couldn’t be here today so I will be representing for her.

Today is about Truth and Reconciliation, or in other words Orange Shirt Day. The history of Orange Shirt Day comes from residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad, whose grandmother bought her an orange shirt to wear to her first day of school. Phyllis wore her shirt proudly, but upon arrival to William Lake’s Residential School, authorities stripped Phyllis of her orange shirt, they cut her hair, and she never saw her orange shirt again. Today, we wear orange shirt to remind our oppressors that we are still here, and we are strong and resilient.

Today, we remember the children who didn’t make it home, and those who still are healing from it all. It’s been 27 years since the last school closed in 1996, 10 years before I was born.

This has affected my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even my parents- so let me emphasize, this is not something that happened centuries ago. My heart goes out to those who are still healing from residential schools, and all the horrors they endured behind those doors.

This isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and it makes me proud knowing our people are finally being heard and receiving a bit of justice. Yes, just ABIT of justice. Nothing could ever make up for what Residential Schools did to our people, no amount of money can take away the trauma from our survivors. We are left with intergenerational trauma, a culture that our youth don’t know, and for most of us, a dying language. After almost losing OUR culture, the children who never made it home, our people are now struggling with addictions because of all the trauma they went through.

What Orange Shirt Day means to me? It means that us indigenous people are strong. We are fighters, and will continue to fight until the Landfill is searched COMPLETELY. When I heard that they found those 215 children my heart shattered, I don’t know the exact number but from what I’ve read ATLEAST 4,000 children were found. Most of them unmarked.

Those children had names, beautiful ones even before the schools changed them. But today we also honour the Residential School survivors, to those who attended those schools, from the bottom of my heart, I’m so sorry you had to go through this, this awful thing you had to go through for years. And I know nothing will ever be enough to serve you justice for what you went through but your story matters, you matter. Your stories are valid. You are valid. We hurt for you and we welcome you with open arms, will always be here to listen and learn.”