The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a federal statutory holiday which gives the public a chance to recognize and commemorate the intergenerational harm that residential schools have caused to Indigenous families and communities, and to honour those who have been affected by this injustice.
Previously commemorated as the annual Orange Shirt Day, September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.
The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
What can non-Indigenous people in Canada do?
Reconciliation is the responsibility of every Canadian. It means acknowledging the past and ensuring history never repeats itself by respecting Indigenous treaties and rights, and letting go of negative perceptions and stereotypes to work towards solidarity. Reflect on how you can work towards reconciliation in your own life and create your own personal reconciliation plan.
it’s important to listen to survivors’ experiences and believe them. Additionally small gestures such as displaying an orange shirt in your window can have a powerful impact on survivors. Other ways:
- Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice
- Visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website
- Learn about residential schools and take a tour of former sites. If in Ontario for example, learn about Mohawk Village Memorial Park, which will honour the children who attended the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School, which operated from 1834 to 1970
- Research First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in your area to understand their history and contributions to society
- Honour treaties – visit ontario.ca/page/treaties and native-land.ca
- Learn about the significance of land acknowledgements and learn the one in your area; for instance “Land acknowledgements: uncovering an oral history of Tkaronto via Local Love
- Access the Indigenous Resource Guide curated by NSCC Libraries
- Donate to Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) for instant, Restoration of Identity Project and Spirit Garden at Nathan Phillips Square, led by Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre in partnership with the City of Toronto
- Support or volunteer for local Indigenous organizations or causes
- Wear orange on September 30 for Orange Shirt Day, established by the Orange Shirt Society in 2013 to honour “Phyllis’s story”
- Buy an orange shirt from an Indigenous artist or company that supports Indigenous causes, or directly through the Orange Shirt Society
- Attend Indigenous cultural events open to the public across the country.