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Dolores Naponse, 72, of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation near Sudbury, Ont., prepares to throw the ceremonial first pitch before the start of AL MLB baseball action between the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2022.Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

At Friday’s game, the Blue Jays recognized Canada’s second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour the survivors of residential schools, their families and the children who never returned home. The day honours the 4,000-6,000 Indigenous children that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates died while attending state and church-funded residential schools.

Dolores Naponse, 72, an Indigenous elder, advocate and residential school survivor from the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation, near Sudbury, threw out the first pitch. She is a survivor of both the Whitefish Lake Indian Day School and the Spanish Residential School for girls.

“It’s so important for everyone to know what has happened to all of us residential school survivors, not only the survivors, but the parents of young children who didn’t survive,” said Naponse, shortly after she first stepped out on to the field at Rogers Centre with her daughter and two grandsons. “I’m glad to be here to be doing this for all of us.”

The Blue Jays had several pregame and in-game acknowledgments and recognitions to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day.

WHL teams with Orange Shirt Society before National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Events in Ottawa and across Canada to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

The Canadian anthem was performed in Blackfoot, English and French, by Tsuaki Marule, a professor at Red Crow Community College, from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta. A moment of silence was observed at Rogers Centre. And the Survivors’ Flag was featured prominently throughout the stadium to honour survivors and all lives impacted by the residential school system.

The Blue Jays also welcomed 250 children from Indigenous Rookie League Jays Care programming. On the team’s official social-media accounts, they shared stories of survivors.

There was a moment of silence before the game, and staff throughout the stadium wore orange t-shirts. Many fans did, too.

With a report from The Canadian Press