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Throughout the month of September, Brampton Library youth volunteers have focused on Truth and Reconciliation issues. They have read books, watched films, and discussed the tragedies that have occurred. We are grateful for their passion and commitment and pleased to share their opinions here:

Orange shirt day is a recurring day that comes up every year, recognizing the brutal things that have been done at Residential Schools and the Indigenous community. Starting from the story of Phyllis Webstad, a 6 year old girl who wanted to go to school to make friends. She and her grandma went to the town to get her new clothes to wear, which was a shiny orange shirt to her first day of school. Then the day came and upon arriving at the school her new shirt and all her belongings were taken away and never given back. Now this orange shirt symbolizes the suffering of the kids that had to go through residential schools and help us recognize that pain that had been endured during those times, through this day we call Orange Shirt Day. 

During school we usually only touch the surface upon the topic of Orange Shirt Day talking upon the history of residential schools and the sort of stuff that would be done to the young kids going to those schools. Though after this worldwide pandemic and having to stay home most of the time. Social media has really been my only outlet in learning new things upon different cultures and their identities, and I sure did. People like Shina Nova who on her social media platforms talks upon the culture, history that had been forgotten, and hardships upon the Indigenous community. Moreover coming from that background she really does talk from the heart and makes it very insightful for the people looking at her content. It really taught me a lot about their deep roots in their culture and the truth upon the different acts that happen upon their community in Canada.

Written by Adiba Hoque

Picture being extracted from your home and staying somewhere far away from your parents, your culture, and your community. Envision going against your will, and being punished because of your identity. Well, this was a sad reality for more than 200,000 Inuit, Metis and Aboriginal childrens, who were placed in Residential Schools. Residential Schools are Canada’s dark past and hidden truth that has never been taught in history classes. In Canada before the 19th century, the Indigenous people had their own way of teaching, also known as organic education. Just like our culture being passed down to us through our descendants. Same applied to Indigenous youth, they believed that organic education kept their culture alive and instilled in the future generations. This is because Indigenous children were taught about their customs and culture first hand. The Europeans looked at First Nation peoples as an interference between industrial expansion, Due to which a residential education system was established. Although students study minimally about Residential Schools today, many don’t know the specifics of why they were created. After the Indian Act was established in 1876, first schools were opened which brought thousands of attendees from across the country. Our objective was to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada, who had not been absorbed into Canada’s heritage. To achieve this goal of assimilating First Nations into Canadian Society, children were forcibly removed from their culture and put into one of the hundred and thirty harsh, boarding-type schools. As we know these schools were extremely abusive and harsh, that left long-lasting scars and trauma for many. From violence to abuse to cutting family relations and to abandoning native language has disrupted countless lives. Killing the language of the Aboriginals led to an end to their culture. The Aboriginal childrens were forced to speak English, not the language they spoke with their parents. It is true that it took Canada 10 years to close the doors for the last residential school for childrens. There is no way we can give back to the survivors of Indian Residential School and their families, however, we need to give these communities a chance to regain their culture and traditions. The Canadian government established the Truth and Reconciliation Day, also known as Orange shirt day to do so. It recently became a statutory holiday that is recognized every year, on September 30th after the shocking discovery of numerous unmarked graves. This is a way to acknowledge the silent genocide we have done for past centuries. We as a country need to be more transparent about Residential Schools and how we as a country failed to protect the childrens of the First Nation community profoundly. For generations to come, the full history of Canada’s residential schools, which existed for more than a century will be flattened-out, suppressed and ignored. As a non-Indigenous it hurts to have a hazy idea of “Indian schools,” and the nightmarish abuse many face. It is rarely talked about and absolutely never acknowledged. I utterly think it’s important for kids to learn it in schools and for us to acknowledge it. It’s been a hidden part of our history for quite a very long time. This will create and add a non-filtered layer for young youth to become more emotionally aware.

Written by Harmit Saini

The National day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange shirt day, is a Canadian statutory holiday that occurs every year, on September 30th. This special day became a statutory holiday in 2021, after the shocking discovery of countless unmarked graves in the sites of former residential schools. It is on this day that we acknowledge the crimes, hardships, struggles, heartaches, abuse, and overall dreadful events that plagued the Indigenous community. Residential schools resulted in what can only be described as a tragic cultural genocide that is permanently imprinted into the dark, covered history of Canada. Moreover, the impact residential schools have had on Indigenous peoples has lasted over a century, and it continues to affect the Indigenous community today. The cultural cleansing that took place and the memories and experiences shared by survivors have forever marked the community. The national day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day in which awareness is brought to this issue, and people are encouraged to wear an orange shirt. Something that has personally stuck with me regarding the national day of Truth and Reconciliation was a statement given to me by my eighth-grade French teacher. My eighth-grade French teacher was a First Nations, and she continued to educate my class on the issues the Indigenous community faced in the past, and the ongoing issues they continue to face. On orange shirt day, she talked about the horrid conditions and constant abuse against children, and she stated, “if you could pass, you would pass.” This meant that whenever an Indigenous person was given the opportunity to pass off as white, they would most likely do so as to prevent themselves from facing further issues and discrimination. My teacher herself had a light skin tone, which she then explained, that upon first glance, no one would assume she was a First Nation. The reason that statement has stuck with me is that I am just heartbroken at the fact that the conditions forced onto the Indigenous community made it so that people would hide their culture from others rather than embrace it. Not to mention the ongoing discrimination against those of Indigenous descent. Additionally, the reserves in which many Indigenous people live also face other ongoing issues, such as crime, unemployment, unsafe water, low income, non-equitable funding, lack of public services, and more. There is no question that the residential schools were an absolute tragedy and only one of the many wrongs done to the Indigenous community; it is now our duty to find and fulfill methods of reconciliation with the Indigenous community.  

Written by Ruhaim Ali

Hundreds of unmarked graves are situated all across Canada. The remains of Indigenous children, ruthlessly separated from their families and coerced into attending residential schools centuries ago, continue to be discovered. This horrific method of cultural assimilation, ultimately resulting in the deaths of over 3,200 children, ongoing grief for the Indigenous community, and residual trauma are the tip of the iceberg in reference to the dark history of oppression, discrimination, and neglect that Indigenous peoples have faced, and continue to experience. Commencing with the colonization of their land, followed by the battles to advocate for Indigenous rights and champion equality, social injustice prevails as their community grapples with poverty, unemployment, and more. Not to mention, Indigenous people still struggle to be heard. In previous years, the silence when addressing Indigenous issues has been indicative of ignorance and indifference. Nowadays, the government and non-Indigenous communities are taking responsibility and working alongside one another to reconcile with Indigenous peoples and make amends. Newly proclaimed as a federal statutory holiday, The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize the wrongs of our past and the devastating legacy of residential schools in particular. This day provides us with a chance to honour Indigenous people and fully comprehend the hardships they have encountered and emerged from stronger. On September 30th, raise awareness, support the Indigenous community by wearing an orange shirt in solidarity, and heal through meaningful, necessary discussion.

Written by Pranavi Kotta

In 1831, the first residential school would open its doors to welcome the indoctrination of Indigenous children and the erasure of their culture. More residential schools would follow suit in the years that followed, with the last one closing its trauma-infected halls in 1996. To think such a tragedy continued on until only about 2 decades ago. An event of this magnitude has left a crater of generational trauma on the Indigenous community, a scar that has yet to fully heal. On September 30th, we remember all the children who have died as a result of the cruelty and corruption of Canada's government and church. On that day, it is imperative we listen to all of the survivors' stories and experiences. It is our responsibility to raise their voices and listen to their plight, which has gone unnoticed for many generations. The recent community outcry emphasizes the importance of listening in order to implement appropriate change. The day is known as Orange Day, named as such after the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad. Phyllis had only turned 6 when she went to a mission school. Though they weren’t particularly wealthy, her grandma had bought her a new shirt glistening the colour orange. In that shirt, she felt excited and ready for school. Unfortunately, as we’ve all come to know the true reality of those schools, so did she upon her first day of attendance. On arrival, Phyllis and other children were stripped of their belongings, including her brand new orange shirt. After that incident Phyllis describes her newfound relation to the colour orange, “The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.” (Phyllis Wedstad) At this time, orange now signifies the voices of indigenous children gone unheard, but no longer will they stay this way. Oftentimes we are taught a washed-down version of the story. Perhaps because we are too young to handle the severity and horrid reality of the schools, or perhaps we were taught in such a way so this part in our history is seen as less disgusting. Regardless of the reason, it is up to all of us now to educate ourselves by listening to our Indigenous neighbors. Thanks to the internet we have access to all we need to educate ourselves and share our own thoughts and beliefs. On the app Tik Tok alone there are many Indigenous creators who share their experiences, stories, as well as the intricacies of their culture. Such as James Jones (@Notoriouscree), Shina Novalinga (@Shinanova), and Fawn Wood (@Fawn.wood). Now is the time to stand with your neighbors so we can bring change for all of us.

Written by Binaisha Dhillon

The residential schools were a promise made by the Canadian government to the Indigenous peoples, that their children will receive the best care. That despite them being far from home, they would have the finest education possible. This was a lie. Duncan Campbell Scott, a member of the Department of Indian Affairs, said: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. [...] Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.” Indigenous peoples were always neglected, so much so that for an entire century, from 1883 to 1996, just 25 years ago, they were victims of mass genocide. Despite the fact that Indigenous peoples were the Native peoples of our land, the Canadian government treated and at times, still considers the First Nations population as a burden. In the eyes of Europeans, they were “savages,” due to their culture and ways of living. Because Indigenous peoples' lives revolve around giving back to the land rather than living off of it, they were seen as “lower class.” They have been displaced across the country, then thrown out during wars, and killed in residential schools. In 2008, twelve years following the century-long operation of the residential school system, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to the First Nations people acknowledging Canada’s involvement in the residential school system. He recognized the great trauma that Indigenous children endured, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Seeing this, Harper formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which presented an opportunity to educate Canada on the harm they inflicted upon the First Nations, and to amend our country’s relation with the Indigenous peoples. Soon after, in 2013, Phyllis Webstad, a First Nation girl that attended residential school when she was six years old, came out about her story. An orange shirt that was gifted by her grandmother was taken away from her at the school, along with everything else that suggested she was a First Nations in order to assimilate her to white culture. September 30 is now a national day for Truth and Reconciliation in remembrance of the residential school system and what Canada has stolen from the Indigenous population, which they are still trying to recover to this day. The truth is, Canada simply has not tried hard enough to reconcile with the First Nations population. The majority of them still live on reserves with no clean water and have been given false and empty promises, Prime Minister by Prime Minister. Change must happen, but we can only do so by educating others. Canadians must amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples and allow their stories to be heard, as well as sharing their culture. The more people that understand the trauma that First Nations have gone through, the more people we have to advocate for their rights and urge the Canadian government to make change. We can bring justice and reconcile with the Indigenous peoples, as long as Canadians are by their side. 

Written by Khushi Jamnadas

Residential school survivors still experience feelings of worthlessness and insignificance, the exact feelings that were ingrained in them from the moment they step foot in the building. Even though those horrendous days are over, survivors of residential schools still feel like they don't matter. This is the everlasting impact that residential schools have on survivors. It's why we honor these heroes and should never try to erase such a prominent event from our nation’s history and identity. To ensure that the ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten, we need to be willing to spread awareness and promote discussion on this topic. Every child matters and all cultures should be celebrated. Therefore, it is crucial that we show a genuine interest in Indigenous history and beliefs, and give them an equal amount of respect. Indigenous stories are so rich in morals/teachings that we can apply them to our daily lives, which will make us diverse individuals with new perspectives. The least we can do is educate ourselves on the topic of residential schools, so we can empathize with the survivors and understand what we need to do to support them. Many people believe that residential schools were existent too far back in history for them to care. However, the last residential school closed in 1996 (25 years ago)! This is why some Indigenous survivors are still coping with the trauma, as we begin to erase it from our history! Therefore, it is time that we help our fellow Canadians feel safe and welcomed, and honor Orange Shirt Day with the purest intentions.

Written by Tanvi Seth

September 30 emblems the day when all Canadian residents are instructed to wear orange in order to honour orange shirt day. However, while many follow the recently established tradition, including school children, many are not aware of the deep roots, importance and significance behind this commemorative day. Beginning eight years prior, orange shirt day was chosen to be the day when the implications, intergenerational trauma and lasting impact of Indigneous residential schools are remembered and acknowledged. It was inspired by the residential school, St. Joseph Mission, survivor story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad whose orange shirt that her grandmother had given was confiscated by catholic church-run authorities as it made Phyllis too excited and happy. Many years after, the legacy of the residential schools lives on as graves of missing Indigenous children were found under the Kamloops Residential School. The first residential school opened its doors in 1883, imposing the start of a new era for the Indigenous communities who rightfully owned the land the building was constructed on. It was run by the Catholic Church and Canadian government as a way to assimilate and convert the Indigneous children into modern settler society. In simple terms, some people refer to this as cultural genocide as children were ripped from their families and forced to live a Christain lifestyle and were severly punished if the rules were not adhered to. Children were not allowed to practice their tradition, speak their language or even keep in touch with their families. Additionally, physical, emotional and sexual harassment was unfortunately common and expected occurrences in the day to day lives of the children. Then came the Sixties Scoop in the 1960s. All these events have concluded in generations scarred by what was done to them by the thieves of their land. It has not been too long since the last residential school officially closed its doors and a lot of progress must be made to truly reconcile what had been done. Despite the fact that the government has offered a formal apology for those put through the residential school experience and compensation, not much has been done in action. A majority of the Indigneous population remain secluded on underfunded reserves that lack basic necessities such as accessible food, clean water and adequate education. Additionally, when the community attempts to live alongside the modern population, they face intense racism and prejudice. This is especially seen in the small city of Thunder Bay which records the highest number of hate and racism reports in Ontario. It is unfortunate that Indigenous social issues are only coming to light upon such a tragic discovery as the discovery of the unmarked remains. However, I think what should be emphasized is the fact that this issue is indeed making mainstream media and has finally begun to have more awareness. No matter how slow, change will inevitably arrive with the contribution of everyone, including us. We can commemorate the national day of truth and reconciliation by becoming an ally to the Indigneous community. This can be done by first identifying the appropriate terms to be used when mentioning the Indigneous community, along with learning the land and treaty acknowledgements. This is simply the beginning. You can additionally support indigenous artists, voices and businesses. We should also strive to ensure that the erasure of history does not occur and we do not fall into the trap of pretending that there is no longer an issue. We must also bring a humble and helping attitude when attending protests. There are also decolonization workshops hosted country-wide. Further information can be found on this website: Kairos Blanket Exercise. We must strive to enforce the five pillars of reconciliation; diversity, inclusion, equality, sustainability and accessibility.

Written by Harsimranjit Nafriaan

September 30th, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Usually when we think of national days and such it feels like a happy thing when really it is sad that this type of thing even exists. Needing a day to recognize the survivors and their families and what First Nations have been through. Things that shouldn't have happened in the first place but sadly did. To think that people thought it was okay for them to take children away from their homes and try to change who they were. What is the point of a world where everyone is the same? There's nothing special about being like everyone else, it is who you are that makes you unique. To think that Residential schools were already too much there was also the things such as the 60s scoop. Children literally got scooped away from their family because someone decided it would be better for them. In some ways, the schools and the scoop succeeded when children no longer could speak their language, take part in traditions, and didn't know things that were basic in their culture. However, you can never change who a person really is, they will always be connected to their roots.Now we recognize all those that have suffered for far too long because of others actions. The ones that survived and the ones that did not. The ones who could never sit together with their family to have a family game night. The ones that could not connect with their traditions like others and the ones who went through things unimaginable. Thus, on September 30th we wear orange.

Written by Rabia Ahmad

September 30th, a day marked in orange on our calendars showing us the reality of the land we live on and the people we have taken it from. A day we wear orange to show our support and grief of the lives lost and the pain that’s had to be endured by the Indigenous people. As we happily head back to school in the modern-day, around this time of year first nations were also being ripped away from their families with fake promises of a brighter future. As residential schools began to become more and more common the horrors of what happened within also began to take place.Inside these schools, the conversion of an estimated 150,000 Indigenous youth to Canadian society was brought on by whatever means necessary. Some of these conversion methods were cutting hair, giving new names, stripping them of clothing and giving them new ones, physical abuse as punishment, malnourishment that caused an estimated number of 3,000 deaths. Overall they did anything possible to make these children stray from their indigenous culture. Finally, the schools were put to an end in 1996 as we began to notice the horrible influence and acts that took place inside them. But this chapter in history is not over yet. As millions of Canadians, this year watched in horror at the 218  bodies being uncovered from under the surface of a closed residential school in Kamloops, bringing more recognition to the severity of acts that had taken place in our country’s grim past. It forced us to begin reanalyzing the land we stand on and the people and leaders who came before us. As we put on our orange shirts this year and the years to come we must recognize why we put them on and the history the shirt entails. 

Written by Rida Akhtar

Imagine being separated from your Family and Friends at such a young age and put into a Residential School to become accustomed to the Euro - Canadian Culture. Segregated by gender, stripped of your traditional clothing, cutting your hair and having your culture looked down upon. These Government Sponsored Religious Schools have brought disruption in the lives of several Indigenous Communities from the year 1880. The last Residential School (Grollier Hall) had been closed in the year of 1996. That was not long ago! An estimated 150,000 children have attended Residential Schools and over 6,000 have unfortunately passed away. Beginning in 1883, three Residential Schools were built across Canada. Over the next half-century, the federal government developed a system of Residential schools which were mostly placed in the four Western provinces and territories of the country. However, there were many Schools also present in Northwestern Ontario and Northern Quebec. By the year 1930, there were 80 Residential Schools present in Canada. Life in Residential Schools was horrid for several reasons. For instance,  tasks were assigned based on Gender. Girls were given the responsibility of Cooking, Cleaning, Laundry and Sewing. On the other hand, boys were given duties such as Carpentry, Construction, General Maintenance, and Agricultural Labour. Along with this, an inadequate amount of education was provided to students in Residential Schools in terms of academics and professional studies. Teachers were unprepared and harsh with students, speaking with them in only English and French which most of the children did not speak. If students went against any of the rules set, they would face severe punishments such as beatings, confinement and/or being chained up.In the year 1990, former students of these Residential Schools demanded the Government and Churches to publicly acknowledge their role in the schools and provide compensation for the immense suffering they had gone through. Soon after, the federal government provided a $1.9 billion compensation package to the survivors. In 2007, the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was created by the government and churches to provide financial compensation to the former students of Residential Schools.Orange Shirt Day, also known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Created in the year 2013 and is celebrated on September 30) was inspired by Phyllis’s story to educate more and more individuals on Residential Schools in Canada and to honour/remember the loss and experiences of the First Nation, Inuit and Métis children. Now it’s your turn! To help make a difference in the community and to support Indigenous People, you should do the following:

  1. Educate yourself! It is crucial that you learn the history of this day and why it is so important. You can also read through the survivor stories and the agreements that were made by Canada.
  2. Support Indigenous People: Businesses, journals or Community organizations, anything you can do to support will make a big difference.
  3. Donate: Your donation would go towards supporting individuals which feed and shelter Indigenous People.

Anything you do will help! But it is up to me to take a stand to bring a difference to the community.

Written by Khushleen Bawa

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation also called Orange Shirt day is a very important day we all remember occurring on September 30th. There are around 1,300 unmarked graves at the sites of four former residential schools in Western Canada. This shocked many Canadians. In honour of this day, Canadians are encouraged to wear orange shirts. This is the idea of Phyllis Jack Webstad. She herself is a residential school survivor. Residential schools caused great loss to many Indigenous, First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures across Canada. This contributed to a general loss of language. There are around 80, 000 survivors that survived the horrors and must live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. Additionally, they were stripped away from their own culture and ways.  A story from a survivor of a Residential School will  break your heart. At just seven years old, a boy named John Jones was sent to Alberni Residential School. He recalls the darkness of the corridors. He remembers the school being uncomfortably cold during the day as well as at night. “A friend told me not to speak my language or talk about tradition because if you do, you will get punished.” he said. Showing how much they were stripped away of their own culture. Their letters were even screened and did not reach home. The Alberni Residential School closed in 1973. John Jones is one of the many survivors sharing their heartbreaking stories and what they experienced. September 30th will always be a day to remember and honour those who suffered these terrifying horrors.  

Written by Sanvi Duggal

September 30th is the date of Orange Shirt Day, also known as The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day marks and honours the hundreds of Indigenous children sent to residential schools within Canada. On this day, we are encouraged to learn about these schools and their impact on the lives of Indigenous peoples. Even though a single day is dedicated specifically to this cause, the conversation should never stop here because a single day will never amount to or acknowledge the pain and hardships faced by the Indigenous community. Too many people gloss over the impact of residential schools with the idea that all of this is in the past. We must consider the generational trauma, systemic discrimination, and loss of cultural identity caused by residential schools and past actions. Without uncovering the truth, we cannot reconcile. The Indigenous community are fighting to this day to have their voice heard, and yet their words fall on deaf ears. Orange Shirt Day is not only a day of learning, but of amplification. So yes do read a book, watch a documentary, engage in conversation, but also bring this issue with your community, advocate on social media, donate and work with organizations to raise awareness. It’s time everyone steps in to help do the talking.

Written by Pallavi Ahir

On September 30th Orange shirt day was an opportunity to discuss the impacts of residential schools on the Indigenous community. However, in light of recent discoveries, over 1300 unmarked graves were discovered on the very grounds of residential schools. The stories that Indigenous peoples have been trying to tell, had undeniable proof to what they have suffered. Yet, not all Canadians are aware of the importance of reconciliation, or what it is. Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples starts with the awareness of the effects Canada’s government and colonization had; historical and present. It continues with actively trying to rebuild relations with the Indigenous community, and is a multi step process that will take many years. Many Canadians must be willing to look into our history and share it all; only then can we even start to help the Indigenous community that we have wrongfully mistreated.

Written by Sophia Narayan

Canada prides itself on multiculturalism and anti-discrimination. Today, Canada is a very diverse nation - filled with people from different backgrounds. However, this was not always the case. Canada has a very dark chapter in history that is not often talked about. Residential schools were introduced in Canada in the 1800s, with the goal of assimilating Indigenous children. These children were ruthlessly taken away from their families, they were not allowed to practice their culture or religion, speak their language, or see their parents. These children were emotionally and physically abused and tortured. The final residential school closed in 1996 - only 25 years ago. This is so recent which is why it is so dehumanizing to think about that 25 years ago, only 25, indigenous children were being treated so horribly. And discrimination and injustices are still faced my indigenous communities today. Indigenous people living on reserves still do not have access to clean drinking water, they have limited access to education and jobs, and are targeted more in crime. Thousands of graves across Canada belong to indigenous children who are still unnamed and have not received any justice. Which is why Orange Day is so important. It is a day to acknowledge the injustices done, the harm caused, and to honour and respect indigenous communities. On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation we need to engage in crucial conversations and discussions, spread awareness, and opt for change. Indigenous people deserve justice, equity, and equality. 

Written by Yasleen Multani

Each year, Canadians have acknowledged the crimes, injustice and discrimination towards the First Nations of this country through Orange Shirt Day. Although some may not know or have heard about this, Canadian students learn about this each and every year; whether it’s learning about residential schools in Social Studies or having guest speakers tell us about how First Nations were treated, we have all heard of this unbearable issue time and time again. Yet it was this particular year where the injustices that First Nations faced took an even more horrible turn: hundreds of unmarked graves of First Nations children were found across Canada. This brought the genocide of the First Nations under a whole new light, which immensely angered Canadians, as this was never known until now. The fact that these were children was even more unacceptable; all of them should’ve had bright futures and should’ve looked forward to a fulfilling life in a country where their people had all the rights to. But, we all know what happened, and we all know the tragedies that the First Nations went through and are still going through. Thus, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was passed and has been made a statutory holiday on September 30th. What initially angered me the most was that the Ontario government refused to declare September 30 as a statutory holiday to honour the residential school survivors, but Peel region did indeed declare it as a holiday, which made up for it. Honestly, I think we need to step up way more for the First Nations of this country, and I think we should demand more for them, as they are the first inhabitants of this whole country. It’s not enough to just acknowledge that we are all on the land of the First Nations everyday, we need to take actual action by fixing their most dire issues; from getting them clean drinking water to getting them the adequate housing they deserve, we need to start doing more. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation should really be what the name holds and we need to help starting now. As responsible Canadian citizens, we need to start the reconciliation process in any way we can. To ensure justice for all the children that were stolen from their families and those who survived it all, we must wear orange on September 30th and truly recognize the meaning of the day we have dedicated to Truth and Reconciliation. 

Written by Abhinayan Sayanthan

Throughout the month of September, Brampton Library youth volunteers have focused on Truth and Reconciliation issues. They have read books, watched films, and discussed the tragedies that have occurred. We are grateful for their passion and commitment and pleased to share their poems here:

The Unmasked Truth

by Adiba Hoque

On the 30th of September,

We come together and remember,

The awful things that have been done,

To the young kids who had not seen their families for the longest time,

We thought it was acceptable until we knew it was a crime,

Stripping their culture from their heart and their mind,

As we remember those residential schools on Orange Shirt Day,

We also remember the deep scars they have welded into Indigenous people’s lives


Lost Words: The Silent Genocide

by Harmit Saini: 

I lost my speech 

You snatched it from me 

Years of being silenced and unvoiced; 

The language I spoke was a taboo and forbidden  

Eventually lost with time 

It was taken from me; 

Today; I speak like you 

I interact like you 

I do you 

I am you!

I speak one language out here 

and another language at home 

However, I fantasize about one language, 

One language only. 

My mother tongue.

The one that prevails 

My heritage and family roots.


Sands of change 

by Binaisha Dhillon 

(Told in first person)

Sea of sand,

Sands of time,

I walk on these sands alongside all of you,

Yet my feet burn with each step.

Beneath these sandy shores, buried far out of sight, lay burning embers.

It seems as though only my people and I feel these embers on this journey of life we as humans share.

Some of us stopped walking, 

They sat down and with them stayed their stories and gifts.

I nor anyone else on these shores will ever learn their history.

These embers may continue to burn my feet but I won’t stop walking.

I won’t stop until the sea can cool these embers so that my people may not suffer in silence anymore,

I will walk so no more stories and traditions are lost to the pain and suffering caused by these hidden embers,

I will walk on until the sands of time bring us change.



by Janvi Paul  

Every child matters

To honour we must hear the stories that’ll make your heart shatter

Taken from their families and homes 

Only to be shoved into the dark unknown 

The government thought of this as a victory 

The unknown is known throughout history… 

As residential schools

Cruel afternoons filled with abuse.

It really is a reality 

That the indigenous children suffered brutality.

They are true warriors 

Having to see the horror, torture and slaughter 

Safety there was a bluff

Their eyes have seen more than enough 

Making it hard to sleep

They lie in bed with eyes that weep 

And as they rise from their bitter beds

Another day they have to face with never ending dread.

More than 600 children found dead 

The tears their families must’ve shed

All unmarked graves 

Bodies hidden for decades. 

An apology isn’t enough to show regret 

So, after all that lets not forget 

Their culture is beautiful, stolen and deep

As a community we were weak

For those children and families we should’ve stood together in unity

To help protect their identity

To honour the indigenous children’s battles 

Speak up about what’s right because every child matters.


A Broken Record 

by Fatima Ahmed : 

His tears dashed down his face leaving streaks marring his innocence 

His childhood was lost to time the moment he stepped foot into the wretched halls of that school 

Each soul altering step he took through those halls took him further from the angelic boy he once was, yet to be tainted with the monstrosities of the land he called home, and closer to the man he one day would be

A man lost to the perils of grief, mourning a childhood he never had 

It drew closer day by day 

Moment by moment 

He stood paralyzed as they took his very essence 

"Beat the Indian out of the boy," they said  

He fears he may have lost the boy to the beating along the way

For the man that stood before him was barely that 

A shattered relic 

A recollection of travesties perpetrated against his people 

A broken record loved once, but now and henceforth lost to the perils of humanity and its woes 


The Search for a Forgotten Boy

by Krupa Dave

As “78” stands under the towering ceiling of the dormitory,

There’s no feeling other than imprisonment that confines them in.

An unfamiliar memory of a boy locked in his mind like a repository,

Amidst the cries, he tries to recall him


His consciousness hangs on to the swirls and echoes of a lost and forgotten world.

As the ghost of memories visit his dreams, he can’t help but ponder -

The whispers of a native tongue as they unfurl,

A joyous family in the distance laughs yonder.


The last embrace the boy shared with his mother before he was taken captive.

The smell of campfires, wood and home felt distant yet so familiar.

As he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t seem to recognize a reflection so adaptive. 

The boy’s once long hair, ghost of a smile, and spirit had never looked so conciliar.

“78” puts his head down to grieve the boy.


Did he bury him somewhere inside of him?

The long-lost forgotten boy.

The boy who once went by a name, not a number.


As Brampton Library’s Volunteer Supervisor, I am privileged both to mentor and learn from our wonderful volunteers. During these times, the Library has embraced new ways for our youth volunteers to grow personally and academically, as they have reflected in the essays that they have written below.  

It is my pleasure to recognize and thank all of our volunteers for their enthusiasm and creativity. Their individual value and the power of their collective efforts enriches our organization in countless ways. On behalf of Brampton Library Board Members and Staff, thank you to our volunteers!

Essays by our Youth Volunteers:


Throughout the pandemic, I have been spending time volunteering with Brampton Library. Not only did I enjoy my experience with Brampton Library during the pandemic, it has also proven to be exceptionally beneficial. From my past volunteering experience with Brampton Library, I have learned various values that have played a vital role in my growth and development as an individual. A few examples of these values include the importance of being a part of a community, fulfilling your commitments, maintaining a healthy balance between work and life, the power of knowledge, the strength of teamwork, as well as the significance of optimism and positivity in life. 

Through my volunteering experience with Brampton Library, I feel as though I have received an outlet for my voice, through which I am able to express my own opinion as well as educate myself on the opinions and perspectives of others on a variety of issues and topics. Furthermore, the extraordinary group of volunteers at Brampton Library has created a community in which we support one another, especially during these unfortunate times. Additionally, by volunteering with the Library during the pandemic, I have connected with like-minded individuals, each with strong minds, unique personalities, varying stances on different issues, and a drive to create a better future. 

Truthfully speaking, by volunteering with Brampton Library, I feel as though I have become one of several individuals who intend to leave a positive impact on humanity and lead mankind into making a difference, from ceasing all forms of racism to ending any application of discrimination based upon gender, to terminating numerous other issues present within society today, I, like countless others, hope to bring a positive difference to tomorrow’s society in my lifetime.

Thank you for this amazing opportunity! So far volunteering with Brampton Library has been a fantastic experience and I am always excited for what we will be doing next.

Ruhaim Ali

Cyril Clark Branch


Volunteering during the pandemic has not been a simple task. It takes hard work and dedication to balance life, let alone in a pandemic. Though it has been difficult, it has been a wonderful experience as I have come to find that there are many values to be learned through volunteering. Firstly, you must not give up, your community needs you. 

It was through the sharing of stories, documentaries, and more, that I was inspired to keep pushing through these hard times. I can only imagine what it did for others. Secondly, you must use your voice. Through our discussions, I learned there are people who are willing to listen when you speak, hence, you must speak up about issues you experience, as your voice will be heard by the right people. Furthermore, through volunteering, I learned that I am not alone in many of my struggles. For instance, many other people are finding it difficult to connect with others during these trying times, yet we are able to begin to break down that barrier by volunteering. We are able to connect through knowledge. Knowledge is powerful as it gives the opportunity to advance one’s state of mind and connect with others. The right people will be drawn to knowledge and it is through those attractions that we are able to connect as humans and keep hope alive during these strenuous times.

I would also like to thank you for helping to keep the hope alive during these hard times, it means a lot to me and it has had an unforgettable impact on me.

Princess Sarah Owusu

Gore Meadows Branch


Volunteering has always been an enjoyable and fun activity. It allows me to meet new people and learn new things, while also being able to help my community. Since I was a child I’ve always loved to read and have loved coming to the library, so when I turned 14, I knew I wanted to volunteer with Brampton library and my experience has been extremely positive and helpful.

When I first started volunteering at Brampton Library, I was very nervous but Rada and the other workers at my local branch (South Fletcher’s) were \very welcoming and accepting. It was easy for me to communicate with them and also learn new things. Since all the volunteering for the Library has been forced to be online because of COVID-19, Rada has always been sending opportunities not only to earn hours but also to explore other interests for example; Hack-a-thons. This has been good during the lockdowns because it can often feel extremely lonely and hopeless, but being able to connect to other people always makes my day brighter.

From book reviews to movie discussions, Brampton Library has always given opportunities for my voice to be heard. During this pandemic we have discussed multiple issues, ranging from BLM and police brutality, to climate change. This has allowed me to learn so many new things and also to listen to people with different perspectives. COVID-19 has been hard for all of us but I believe that volunteering online has helped me connect to others.

I like to volunteer at Brampton Library because it is such an accepting and fun place to volunteer. Before COVID I loved to be in the Library and talk to so many new people and although I’m not able to do this as often as before, I think that it is truly remarkable that we are all able to learn and meet others while we are online. I learned the importance of leadership, organization and communication while volunteering and it has helped me in many other areas of my life too.

Belicia Rajkumar

South Fletcher’s Branch


As the pandemic began, there was uncertainty as to how the world would continue. But one of the greatest qualities of humans is our ability to adapt, and like early Homo Sapiens did, we all adapted. It was a struggle, but you cannot have success without failure to define it. Thus many lessons were learned as I tried to wade through the untested waters of the pandemic. 

One of the greatest values I have learned through volunteering, and am honestly still learning, is balance. It is important to understand how to balance school, extracurriculars, and free time. Too much of something, either good or bad, can only harm oneself. One of the greatest parts of being a volunteer is the connection with the community. Branching out farther than the friends I know from my school is something that I took for granted before quarantine began. The simple hellos, how are you doing, the nods to one another---it became so much harder to hold on to people that I never talked to regularly, people outside of whom I normally spent time with. Brampton Library helped with that. 

Through documentary discussions, art projects, and more, I began to re-establish the connection that would be quite hard to keep otherwise. I realized that there were a million bubbles out there outside of mine. Not only was I able to keep up with the community, but my voice was heard during movie discussions. The ability to talk about something important, that not only affects us as individuals, but the world, brought on the amazement that while we may literally be separated, we are still connected at the heart. We are in this together, all of us learning to wade through the water together.

Kavyah Gandhiram

Cyril Clark Branch


As the clock hit 12 on the eve of the new year, the world screamed in celebration. 2020 had finally begun. Little did they know, 2020 would be an unimaginable experience. Lives lost, loved ones forced apart, six feet of distance, masks covering the faces of all, everything had changed. 

The global pandemic took over everyone’s lives. Impacting specific demographics more than others, it flipped the world upside down. As a student, I began online school. As a volunteer, I did not know what to expect. Having started volunteering a month before libraries were closed, I had so many questions about my role as a volunteer. Uncertainty riddled the lives of everyone, big and small, old and young. Much to my disappointment, these uncertain times left a lot of things in the unknown.

One day, while going about my day, trying to use my time at home to learn something new, I got an email that would change my whole pandemic experience. With the guidance of Ms. Micic, my voice was finally being heard. I learned about inspirational people who had changed the world, those who had been highly successful during pandemics throughout history, and most of all, I learned about the power of community. 

Community unites all and in the midst of community lies compassion, empathy and leadership. As volunteers of Brampton Library, we came together to present our talents, create discussions surrounding aspects of the community, and share our skills. 

My voice was being heard! Despite the difficulty of these tumultuous times, I have learned that in unity, we can all become stronger. Although these times of uncertainty have changed our lives, I have become certain that I can always rely  on Brampton Library community to inspire me to evolve as a steward in my community.

Harnoor Kehal

Chinguacousy Branch


This past year has been a year of the unexpected, of pain, and of new norms. But for many, it has also been a year for growth, for learning, and a year of realization. About a year ago, my journey with Brampton Library began, and it began much differently than many volunteers are used to. Ever since COVID-19 hit, everything became digital---school, work, volunteering, and even talking to peers and family. For me, who was just figuring out volunteering, it was a new stress that I had never experienced or thought I would ever experience, and I didn’t know what to expect. 

But through this past year, volunteering has brought joy and happiness, even through dark and unrestful times. This position has become more than just an organization that I volunteer with, it has become a community and a safe place for me to share and express my views and ideas. 

The community that has been established has allowed me to understand and connect with my peers, even though we’ve never met face to face. We’ve shared stories, insecurities, ideas, art, emotions, valuable learning materials, and all sorts of pieces together that have brought us together and made us stronger. We’ve been given opportunities to express our voices, to spread awareness, and further educate ourselves. And even though the pandemic has changed the volunteering experience for many of us, we are all pushing through and working together, as a community, to overcome these challenges. To reach the light at the end of the tunnel. To be the change for tomorrow. 

Mahekpreet Sra

Springdale branch


It all began with an extension of March Break. Everyone was delighted to pause everything for moments, to sit down and do absolutely nothing. Sure, a little rest is great, but when you have no one to talk to, no assignments to keep you busy, nowhere to go, it can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Brampton Library has helped all its volunteers immensely to prevent this situation from occurring. From discussions to book reviews, every volunteer had been given several opportunities to fight their boredom and engage in conversations that actually meant something to them. 

During these conversations, every volunteer’s opinion mattered, everyone was equally respected and supported. There were many discussions regarding breaking the norms of society to crucial problems or events that went unnoticed. The ability to have such opportunities created several possibilities to obtain skills, especially confidence. This led to the motivation and encouragement of ordinary students to step out of their comfort zone and become leaders. In short, a virtual environment, created by Brampton Library, where there were no cultural barriers or stigmas present. 

As a volunteer at this organization, I can proudly say that Brampton Library has opened many pathways and opportunities for me during this pandemic.

Khushleen Bawa

Gore Meadows Branch


What comes to one's mind at the sound of the word “volunteer”? Before, for me it would’ve meant service, giving back, and selflessness. I’ve now been a volunteer with Brampton Library for over a year, and I’ve learned that while it certainly means all of these things, there is an aspect I truly did not consider: How it would affect me as a person. Now, I can safely say that volunteering with Brampton Library impacted my values, my sense of community, and my feeling of self-worth. 

During quarantine, I expected volunteering activities to come to a halt. After all, if we weren’t in the library, how could we possibly contribute to the community? I was proven clearly wrong, as we received emails almost on the daily giving us new opportunities to help out and to learn. We received access to documentaries, articles and discussions to show us the reality of the world. And I can say, my values have shifted. My priorities in life before volunteering were heavily focused on reaching success and contentment for the future, and while I had a flame for activism and charity, it had not been lit yet. After these meaningful discussions, I witnessed my values changing to something larger than my own life, I felt the need to do something, anything, to help those struggling around me. I learned the value of service, even in small ways, and like that, volunteering changed me forever. 

Something special to me about Brampton Library is the importance it places on giving volunteers a voice. Rather than give and let us act out their instructions, they encourage feedback and new ideas. I witnessed this when I used to volunteer for programs and was asked to pitch ideas when something went wrong, and I saw this even clearer after the pandemic. From giving us platforms to give a presentation on any topic of our choosing, to having the volunteers host events rather than adults, the library made it clear that they took the voice of youth seriously. By encouraging me to speak, and valuing my opinion, Brampton Library has made me a more confident individual, in the truest sense of the word. 

The community of volunteers I work with is incredible, and I see it in every one of our discussions. Most of these individuals I have never met in my life, but I feel comfortable telling them anything, because of how incredibly supportive my experience working with the library has been. If one of the volunteers starts an initiative, they always have this platform to present it on, as we will all go the extra mile to support it. 

Volunteering is an experience I will hold dearly to my heart for the rest of my life, as it is one of the rare experiences I can honestly say changed me. 

Gurleen Rangi

South Fletcher’s Branch


March break of 2020 is when things completely changed for me. To think I would experience a pandemic in my high school years was something that never crossed my mind. However, volunteering with the library has helped me grow and the pandemic made me realize just how glad I am to be a part of it. I learned a lot, the value of opportunities, opening my eyes to the issues in this world, talking about things that are important, being thankful for all the things we have, the value of our environment and much more. 

Every opportunity that was given to me felt like a new door was opened, full of learning experiences and fun. It helped me busy myself while at home when boredom was at its prime. I opened up about my experiences, making my voice heard as an attempt to help others connect and take charge of what I believed was right. It made me realize how important it is to support others, not just because of a pandemic. Throughout, many issues were finally getting shun on. 

This led me to realize the importance of community involvement because we tend to try to change the bigger picture without even addressing the issues in our backyards first. Brampton Library helped not just me, but a lot of people in many ways. Working with such empowering people and having such a great role model like Ms. Rada, allowed me to put myself out there. Definitely an eye-opener to how much chaos can break out when things seem out of control, truth is though, we have so much more power over a situation than we think. Thus, my volunteering experience has been very life-changing and I am very thankful for being a part of Brampton Library.

Rabia Ahmed

Chinguacousy branch


This time of the Pandemic has impacted many people in significant ways. Everyone has learned differently and grown from this in big ways. Many jobs were lost, people’s mental health was impacted, school has been different since the onset, many people don’t have shelter or food, many loved ones have been lost, posing lots of emotional stress on families. and so much more. 

During this Pandemic, I have been volunteering with Brampton Library since the start. Even though I wasn’t able to go into the Library to volunteer, I was able to get hours in different ways. I was able to get them by writing essays, writing book and movie reviews, attending different activities online, and much more. During this valuable time, I have learned so much and so many new things. I have experienced things in many different ways possible. One of the values I have learned is to firstly, take action in a timely manner. The reason is that we were given many activities where we had to write a blog about different things and we posted them to raise awareness about a certain topic. I also learned how to make every moment count. When given activities, they also broadened my horizons to look at things from different perspectives. Our voices are heard every day because many people wrote blogs to post online and others created presentations amongst many other things. I also once created a blog about Covid-19 and it was uploaded to a website that really made me feel that my voice was heard. Staying connected online through trivia is one of the many ways I felt connected with the community even though we were not able to meet in person. When it comes to supporting each other, we send out emails of appreciation and encouragement after someone may have done a presentation. Overall, this experience has been quite a learning curve with many new things possible on the horizon.

Sanvi Duggal

South Fletcher’s branch


Volunteering throughout the unprecedented pandemic has been an unpredicted change and required a great amount of adjustment. A volunteer is known as an individual who assists in taking part in an enterprise or undertaking a task. As I volunteered with Brampton Library before the introduction of COVID-19, I remember assisting in programs weekly and engaging in the learning of younger children. As the pandemic arrived and we were required to reside at our homes, I was welcomed to a new environment: volunteering and learning online.

Participating in the pandemic assisted me in making valuable experiences and connections. I began to acquire a knowledge of my core values in this new environment. Creativity was one of the many core values I developed. As I participated in expressing my passion for a book or work of art, in writing book reviews and sharing artwork, or engaging in discussions about worldwide issues, I felt my creativity expand. I was able to think of more and more original ideas and tried to add value to them in our projects. Participating in these programs allowed me to develop curiosity and passion by being open to the new environment. Further, I felt my voice being heard as our reviews and opinions were being shared with the world, whether it be of books, artwork or social injustice issues. I felt great being a part of this community, where I can share my opinion freely and listen to others.

Making a difference requires leadership. Understanding what motivates one and acting upon it, by leading oneself and eventually others, is key to making an impact. This was a lesson that I had learned volunteering with Brampton Library online, and I was able to act upon it in my school work and other extracurriculars. 

Hosting discussions with Brampton Library volunteers was an experience that motivated me to spread awareness about social injustice issues. I enjoyed, as a volunteer, discovering how to make an impact on society and support each others’ ideas. All around me was a motivating environment where advocating for one another was greatly beneficial to my social and mental health throughout the pandemic. Volunteering at Brampton Library throughout the pandemic demonstrated to me the magic that happens when we work together to a common purpose and towards change, and I am highly grateful for this experience.    

Once again, thank you for these opportunities to share our ideas with the world! 

Avneet Kaur Saini

South Fletcher’s Branch

My name is Pooja Patel, and I am a Western University first-year business student. I started volunteering at the Brampton Library when I was in grade 10, so this will be my third year. I began volunteering here because of my love of reading, but it has since become a second home for me and a place where I see ideas come to life. In the past year, Rada has encouraged us to have meaningful conversions, and we have been able to discuss so many important topics such as personal empowerment and growth. 

Thus, on March 27, I had the pleasure of being invited by Rada to conduct a presentation on starting university and easing the transition to post-secondary education. There was no hesitation in accepting the invite as it was a great opportunity to share my experience whilst assisting other volunteers - who are preparing to apply for post-secondary studies - in navigating this difficult period.

Looking back, I was a high school senior a year ago, nervous about embarking on a new chapter in my life, particularly given the circumstances, but now I am a month away from completing my freshman year of university. This year has been full of ups and downs, with many accomplishments. All worked out in the end, but going through it was a scary experience for me, and I wanted to support other students who were experiencing the same thing, especially as many of our other volunteers are in grade 11. 

Over 25 volunteers attended the presentation and discussion, which was a fantastic turnout. It's something I'd gladly do again because I believe in the value of mentorship and the positive effect it can have on both the mentor and the mentee.

Overall, I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve as a mentor to these volunteers, and I hope they gain something from our interactions.

With that said, I'd like to leave you with a quote from one of my favourite books: "If my life is going to mean something, I have to live it myself." - Percy Jackson, The Lightning Thief

Yours Truly, 

Pooja Patel

Click here to learn more about volunteering with us! 

This pandemic has impacted our lives and affected us in many ways. Brampton Library’s youth volunteers are no exception. With all our branches closed, I had to create alternate ways to keep 165 academically-driven students engaged.  

As part of our youth volunteer project, Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader, participants have been very active writing book reviews, creating many art pieces using Creativebug (an online collection that is free to borrow in our Digital Library on our website), writing diaries of their pandemic experiences, signing up for courses on Lynda.com (also through our Digital Library) to improve their communication skills, and taking part in online discussions about current events, among many other activities.

We read the book Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, which inspired us to discuss online the injustices done to Indigenous people. We watched the movie Hidden Figures and followed up with a discussion about heroes of Black history, whose ground-breaking achievements have been overlooked over time. We discussed that it is our duty to let their legacies shine amid the darkness of discrimination and racism. We watched Stranger Fruit on Kanopy (a free movie streaming collection in our Digital Library) about the shooting of a Black man named Mike Brown by a white police officer. After seeing this movie, almost 100 youth joined online discussions focused on Diversity, Inclusion, and Black Lives Matter.

The movie Hidden Figures inspired me to call our latest youth volunteer project The Hidden Figures of Black History. I invited participants to write essays to honor the first Black heroes of revolutionary change for the betterment of the world. One of our volunteers, Harnoor Kehal from Chinguacousy Branch Library shares his thoughts: “Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. I got to learn a lot while reading through everyone's essays. I would like to thank you for spreading awareness about the strong people of the black community whose contributions are often overlooked. It is about time that we shed light on the many accomplishments of the black community. Their actions have impacted the world. I'm so grateful that I had this opportunity to gather and share information about Ruby Bridges.”

In the following paragraphs, I’m pleased to share the  research prepared by the following youth volunteers, Fatima Ahmed and Jie (Jenny) Li (Mount Pleasant Village Branch Library), Sofia Mateus (Four Corners Branch Library), Gurleen Rangi (South Fletcher’s Branch Library), Esha Patel (Gore Meadows Branch Library), Abhinayan Sayanthan (Springdale Branch Library), and Harnoor Kehal (Chinguacousy Branch Library).

The Hidden Figures of Black History

Shirley Chisholm (1924 -- 2005): The First Black Woman Elected to US Congress

History was built by those who saw the world for what it could be and not what it was. It was built by those who witnessed injustice and sought to fight for change and a future that was just for all. It was built by dreamers and revolutionaries. Shirley Chisholm was one of those select individuals. Elected in 1968 as the first black woman to ever sit in the United States Congress, Chisholm redefined what it meant to be a Black woman in her time. She endured discrimination, racism, and sexism at the hands of her male counterparts, yet she sought to advocate for all those who couldn’t. Her story is one of endurance, inner strength, and courage and still resonates in the hearts of Black men and women across the globe. Furthermore, she vocalized her criticism of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam  War as well as the excessive funding for the military departments. Not only did Shirley Chisholm voice her opinions on the sexism, racism, and segregational values that lied at the heart of American politics and culture, but she also chose to fight against it. Yearning to change the face of American politics forever, Chisholm employed all women, half of whom were Black, in her office, being the first one to achieve such a task. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm once again accomplished what many thought to be impossible. Chisholm became the first Black candidate to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, setting an example that would shape generations to come. In the fall of 2020, fifteen years after Congresswoman Chisholm's death,  Kamala Harris became the first black woman to be the Vice-President of The United States of  America and paid homage to Chisholm, stating "We stand on the shoulders of Shirley Chisholm and Shirley Chisholm stood proud.” 

Jean Augustine (1937-- Present): The first African Canadian Woman to be Elected to the Canadian House of Commons                                              

As a very empowering and motivational Black woman, Jean Augustine has accomplished so much in Canadian history, not only for the Black community but for so many individuals. She has not only helped to set an example for young Black people, she has also helped individuals of many races with their struggles as well. She contributed to multiple social causes while working at York University, Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the Harbourfront Corporation, and in 1983 she made Canadian history, becoming the first African Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa, as an MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. During the years she spent in Parliament, she filled the positions of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Minister of Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, Chair of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade committee, Chair of the Human Rights Committee, and Chair of the National Women’s Caucus. In 2005, she was elected to be the Deputy Speaker by her fellow peers. She contributed to legislation to protect disadvantaged and low-income individuals, and secured the Motion to build the first and only statue featuring women on Parliament Hill, known as the Famous Five Monument, along with other important improvements to our country. Another huge win for the diversity of Canada that Jean Augustine assisted with was dedicating February as Black History Month in Canada. In 2021, she is still contributing to helping anyone who needs it while spending time with her two daughters and two grandsons. She continues to contribute and assist the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment, but also extending her philanthropy outside of Canada. Dr. Augustine has been awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees from the Universities of Toronto, York, McGill, Guelph, Windsor, Trent and Ryerson and she is a Senior Fellow at Massey College and a Fellow of Centennial College. She has won awards such as the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, the Kaye Livingstone Award, the Ontario Volunteer Award, the Rubena Willis Special Recognition Award, the UNIFOR Nelson Mandela Lifetime Achievement Award, the Toronto Lion’s Club Award, The University of the West Indies’ Luminary Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. She has also been awarded by the Women’s Executive Network who named her one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women. There is

a public school in Brampton named in her honor, another school in Scarborough, a young women empowerment center in Etobicoke, a park on Lakeshore Boulevard, and even a district park. In 2014, Jean Augustine was picked to be the Commander of the Order of the British Empire because of all the contributions she has made for our education and politics and just last year, she was appointed to the Order of Ontario. Ms. Augustine currently co-chairs the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women recognition and database and funds three annual scholarships, one at George Brown College for single mothers, one at Centennial College for young entrepreneurs, and one at Humber College for students in the community studies program. She is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Jean Augustine is such a strong woman, and she has played and continues to play a huge role in the development of our country. From teacher to MP and other governmental positions, to charity and scholarships, Ms. Augustine is living proof that there is always room for growth and involvement. She is the definition of a role model.

Bessie Coleman (1892 -- 1926): The First Black Woman in the United States to Earn a Pilot’s License

Bessie Coleman dreamed of flying but was born into a world that would not give Black women wings. On January 26, 1892, she was born in a one-room, dirt-floored flat in Texas, USA. Her parents were both illiterate, being children of slaves, but her mother insisted that all her children get an education, an ambitious spirit in the most unlikely of places, one that carried Coleman to carry out her dreams later in life. Coleman was enrolled in a school where children of 8 different grades were taught in a single room. School closed whenever children had to help their parents with harvesting cotton, which for most, was their only means of living. Situations were not ideal, but Coleman would bloom like a flower through cement cracks. Bessie Coleman was drawn to flight and dreamed of being a pilot, but she was declined by American flying schools because of her race. On suggestion from her friend, publisher of the Chicago Defender, she left for France instead. She completed flight training at the best school in France and was awarded her Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (F.A.I) license in 1921. She then gained further flying experience by traveling Europe, so that she could perform in air shows. In 1926, Coleman rode on a trial flight with her pilot William D. Wills. She was surveying the area that she would parachute and jump out of for her next show and was therefore leaning out of the plane without a seatbelt. The plane nosedived, and Coleman was launched out of the plane. Both she and the pilot passed away. 

Although Coleman never did achieve her school for African American fliers, she achieved possibly much more than she planned initially. Coleman set off into the world of aviation on her path of self-discovery. In 1977, decades after her death, African American women pilots formed the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club, proving just how much the world had changed.

Annie Turbo Malone (1869 -- 1957): The First Black Businesswoman to Achieve Millionaire Status 

One of the first black women to achieve millionaire status happens to be Annie Turbo Malone. Malone was a successful businesswoman who was born in Metropolis, Illinois on August 9, 1869, to Robert and Isabella Turnbo. She had a strong interest in chemistry and hair from a young age but unfortunately had to drop out of school due to illness. Malone continued to experiment with chemistry, and with the help of her herbalist aunt, she started to create hair care products for black women. She was unsatisfied with the products that women were using to straighten their hair at the time, such as bacon grease, butter, or heavy oils. Not only did Malone start a successful hair care business, but in 1917, she opened the first cosmetology school to specialize in black hair named Poro College. Women who studied in Poro went on to start their own businesses and salons. Poro College also became a hub for social mobility, as Black women in St. Louis at the time were unable to have jobs aside from doing domestic work. Poro College was more than just a beauty school, it was a “center of community activity” as it provided social activities and classes along with welfare. In fact, in 1927 after a tornado struck St. Louis, Poro College acted as a rescue shelter for all those who needed help. By 1920, Malone’s company was said to be worth over $14 million, making her one of the first female black millionaires.

Jane Bolin (1908-2007): The First African American Female Judge in the United States 

Bolin was someone with many firsts for a Black woman, the first to graduate Yale Law School, the first to join the New York City Bar Association, and the first to work in NYC corporate counsel. Her being the first African-American female judge had a huge impact on the Black community. Jane Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on April 11, 1908, to an interracial couple, Matilda Ingram Emery and Gaius C. Bolin. Her father was an advocate who led the Dutchess County Bar Association and was left to take care of his young daughter Jane after his wife had died due to an illness. Jane Bolin grew up to be a stellar student, and graduated from high school, and went into Wellesley College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree despite the racism and segregation she had to tackle. Jane Bolin left an undeniable mark in Black history.

Ruby Bridges (1954 -- Present):The first and the Only Black Child at Age 6 to Attend an All-White School in 1960 in New Orleans

Ruby Nell Bridges, born in 1954 on September 8, in Mississippi in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, would send waves with her contributions to fight racial inequality. Her fighting spirit and insuppressible dream to go to school made her a pillar in the Civil Rights Movement by the mere age of six years old. Rudy attended a segregated school until 1960 when a test was administered to the African American children attending school to determine if they possessed the academic abilities to attend an all-white school. Ruby Bridges met the academic threshold and she was given an opportunity to enroll in William Frantz Elementary School. Her father was reluctant to allow his daughter to attend this school due to concerns regarding her safety. 

After some convincing, her father agreed to send Ruby to the school.Ruby began her first day at William Frantz Elementary School in the same year, on November 14. She had to enter the school building surrounded by federal marshals every day to ensure her safety. She did not do any learning on the first day at her new school as she was situated in the principal's office, while many parents withdrew their children from the school in protest of the desegregation movement. On the following day, Barbra Henry, the only teacher to agree to teach Ruby, began to teach her as the only student in the class. The experience was lonely as Ruby often had to eat lunch by herself and sometimes her teacher would play with her during recess. In addition, her family experienced an increased lack of empathy from people living in the city. For example, Bridges’ father was fired from his job and her mother was unable to buy groceries from many stores because they denied her service. The pain and trauma experienced by her family continued as the Civil Rights Movement made large strides.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 -- 2000): The First African-American Woman to Win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1960

Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was known around the world for being the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 book Annie Allen. As part of the Black Arts movement, Brooks made epic strides for people of color by creating works that portrayed the authentic life experience of black people in her neighborhood.  Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas in nineteen seventeen. She moved to Chicago shortly after her birth. She started writing and publishing in the local magazine at a very young age,  eventually achieving national fame for her 1945 collection A Street in Bronzeville. In 1968, Brooks became the Poet Laureate of Illinois. She used her own money to create an award for young writers in the state. In 1976 she became the first African American woman elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. She also served as a Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. During her later life, she spent time encouraging others to write by sponsoring writers' workshops in Chicago and poetry contests at prisons. She also focused on inspiring young children to write by speaking and giving poetry readings at schools around the country.

Wilma Rudolph (1940 -- 1994): The First American Woman to Win Three Gold Medals in Track and Field at the Olympic Games Becoming The Fastest Woman in the World                                                                                         

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee.

She was the 20th child of 22 children, with poor health. Rudolph survived suffering from polio and scarlet fever. She was forced to wear a brace on her leg. Rudolph’s diagnosis was very bleak.  Later in life, she would often say: “my doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” Together, Rudolph’s parents and siblings took turns taking care of her. They would often remove her leg brace and massage her injured leg. At the age of six, Rudolph began to hop on one leg. 

By eight she could move around with a leg brace. Despite being told as a child she would never walk again, Wilma Rudolph relentlessly pursued her dreams of becoming an international track and field star. At the age of 11, Rudolph tried to play basketball on the court that belonged to the church.A track and field coach noticed her running across to court and he advised her to try track and field.In the 1956 Olympic games, at age 16, Rudolph had her debut competing for the medal. Wilma won her first Olympic medal in the 4x100 relay. Four years later, Rudolph headed to the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome determined to get gold. Her performance in Rome cemented her as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.Wilma won three gold medals and broke at least three world records. Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at the same Olympic games. Wilma Rudolph earned her the title of “the fastest woman in the world.” Returning home an Olympic champion Rudolph refused to attend her homecoming parade if it was not integrated. She won the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award in 1961. The following year, Rudolph retired from track and field. She went on to finish her degree at Tennessee State University and began working in education. She continued her involvement in sports, working at several community centers throughout the United States. She was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame and started an organization to help amateur track and field stars. In 1990, Rudolph became the first woman to receive the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Silver Anniversary Award. The indoor track and dormitory at Tennessee State University are named in honor of Rudolph. In 1977, her life was the subject of a prime-time television movie.Rudolph died of a brain tumor on November 12, 1994.

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