September 30th marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day dedicated to honouring the lost children and survivors of residential schools and their families and communities. At Interac, our offices are closed on October 2nd, and we are encouraging our employees to focus their efforts on reflection and education.
September 30th also marks Orange Shirt Day, a day that originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In 1973, on her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, BC, Phyllis’s new orange shirt was taken from her, leading her to feel invisible. Forty years later, on September 30th, 2013, Phyllis spoke publicly for the first time about her experience, and thus began the Orange Shirt Day movement. Interac is proud to once again be donating $25,000 to the Orange Shirt Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering residential school reconciliation and raising awareness about the enduring intergenerational impacts of these institutions on the concept that every child matters.
Interac is also proud to sponsor Indigenous Friends Association (IFA), an Indigenous led non-profit committed to advancing digital technology through ethical and communal values to support INDIGital and IndigiTECH programs. We are working with IFA to facilitate volunteer opportunities for employees and will be working to hire two interns in September 2024.
In September, we also focused our reconciliation efforts inwards. Interac employees were encouraged to pick up orange shirts from our offices and wear them in support of the Orange Shirt Society to bring visibility to the tragic legacy of residential schools and demonstrate our unwavering support for the Indigenous community and the Every Child Matters movement. We encourage you to delve deeper into the work of The Orange Shirt Society and explore their website here.
At Interac, we also understand that education is the first step to reconciliation. This year we had the privilege of hosting Grandmother Kim Wheatley, an Anishinaabe cultural consultant who spoke to our employees about the significance of land acknowledgements and how we can make them more meaningful, shared stories of her ancestry, and discussed the importance of connection and relationships to each other and nature. In addition, our Learning & Development and D&I teams created learning materials available to our employees to deepen their understanding of Indigenous history and the lasting impacts of the residential school system in Canada.
Interac is committed to prioritizing diversity & inclusion and understand that reconciliation and honouring Indigenous peoples doesn’t stop after one holiday, and so we are committed to continuing this work moving forward by engaging with the Indigenous community with a membership to Indigenous Works, a non-profit organization advancing Indigenous employment and inclusion.
Learn more about our commitment to community impact here.