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Orange Shirt Day honoured in Timmins with a walk and sharing of personal stories

The Timmins Native Friendship Centre chooses to honour September 30th as 'Orange Shirt Day,’ out of respect to the grassroots movement launched by a residential school survivor.

Organizers of Saturday’s event applauded the courageous people who shared their personal stories.

"To let go and let others know that they’re not alone and it also helps empower younger generations that are coming up and to show that it’s okay to reclaim your power," said Mickayla Bird, the centre’s executive director.

One survivor said she has reclaimed her last name and she met her abusers as a way to regain her power.

"I’m not ashamed to say I am the victim of sexual abuse from the nuns and the priest. I’m not ashamed to say that," said Angela Ashishkeesh.

“I pray for them so the Creator will forgive whatever they did."

Others in attendance shared their memories of Bishop Horden Hall, a residential school operated on Moose Factory Island.

"I grew up in Moose Factory and we saw residential school," said Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater of Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

"For a long time, they still had the barbed wire that went around the fence and the schoolyard."

Survivors led the walk from the friendship centre into the city's core.

"I love the fact that everyone’s showing up even non-Indigenous people so the word’s getting out," said Patricia Clement, one of the centre’s board members.

Bird said it was "heartwarming" to have around 300 people attend the event.

If you are a former residential school student in distress or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous Peoples are available here. Top Stories

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