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‘Ciw Wasisok | Mi'guwetelamanej mi'juwaji'g

Every Child Matters: Remembering the Children

Content warning: This event relates to Indian Residential Schools and deals with topics which may cause trauma to readers due to its troubling subject matter.

The Wolastoqey term “Nmoskeyin” and Mi’kmaq term “Meskoltiek” both translate to “I’m sorry”, which will be our gift to survivors and their families. This sentiment requires a pledge that goes beyond words; it requires genuine awareness and knowledge of all harms caused by the residential school experience that continues to haunt Indigenous communities in many ways.

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, Canada designated Sept. 30 National Truth and Reconciliation Day to provide an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.

In New Brunswick, many Wolastoqey, Mi’kmaq and Peskotomuhkati children were sent to the Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia until it was closed in 1967. At the same time, thousands of others were sent to Indian day schools across the province until the last one closed in 1992.

Orange Shirt Day originates from the testimony of Phyllis Webstad, from the Stwecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In 1973, on her first day at St. Joseph’s residential school in Wiliams Lake, BC, six-year-old Phyllis wore her new orange shirt gifted to her by her grandmother for the occasion. When she arrived at school, she was stripped of her orange shirt, her hair was cut and she never saw her shirt again. Phyllis’ story is emblematic of children’s experiences at residential schools across Canada.

It is appropriate that the news of these children’s deaths and the finding of their remains in unmarked graves across Canada has initiated a time of national mourning. In the spirit of building relationships and processing this grief on a more local level, UNB staff, faculty and students will gather with Wabanaki peoples in ceremony to honour survivors like Phyllis Webstad and pay tribute to the children who did not return home from residential schools.

Commemorative event

On Sept. 30 – which is both Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a commemorative ceremony will be held on both campuses to honour the survivors of residential schools and to commemorate the children who did not return home.

Members of the community are invited to join this in-person event on the Fredericton campus, or in Saint John where there will be a live stream event to join the Elders, Residential School Survivors and community from Fredericton virtually.

To participate, we are encouraging the UNB community to write their reflections on an orange heart that will be provided at the event. They will then be placed in a commemorative space where they will be displayed. In addition, there will also be traditional smudging offered.

UNB community members are encouraged to wear their orange t-shirts at the event Sept. 30, as well as Friday, Sept. 29.

For more information about the event, contact piluwitahasuwin@unb.ca.

Date: Sept. 30, 2023
Time: 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Fourth Floor, Performance Gym, Richard J. CURRIE CENTER (Fredericton);
Ganong Hall Lecture Theatre (Saint John)

*A healing walk with the City of Saint John is scheduled to follow the event in Rockwood Park. For more information, email t.ross@unb.ca.

For those not able to attend the in-person event, please join us through the livestream.

Display your orange hearts

As an expression of our strides toward a better tomorrow, we encourage our UNB community to place an orange heart in residence and office windows around our campuses.

Adding these hearts to our windows was an idea put forth by the Indigenous Elders and leaders in our UNB community. This is a gesture to honour the lives of the children who never returned home along with the families and communities who are mourning the discovery of their remains.

All faculty, staff & students can pick up an orange heart at the following locations on campus:

Saint John

  • Office of the Registrar (Oland Hall 132)


  • Registrar’s Office
  • Security Office
  • Student Services


  • Main office

Counselling support

If you or someone you know would benefit from support, counselling services are available.

  • Students can access counselling by calling (506) 648-5501 in Saint John and (506) 453-4820 in Fredericton.
  • Faculty and staff can access counselling services by calling 1-844-880-9142.
  • For immediate, 24/7 support, you may access the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Services by calling 1-888-811-3664 or the CHIMO Helpline at 1-800-667-5005
  • For any urgent matters, please call 911 or make your way to the nearest emergency room.