This Thursday, September 30, marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day honours the lost indigenous children and survivors of residential schools who were forced from their homes their families and communities to receive an education.
The federal government established the new federal holiday in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, number 80 published in 2015: “ We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.“
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation coincides with orange Shirt Day, which honours the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a former residential school student in B.C. who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at residential school.
The orange shirt has become a symbol of remembrance of all Indigenous children who were removed from their families to attend residential schools where their language and culture were repressed. Many children experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The painful legacy of residential schools has had lasting impacts on residential school survivors, their families and their communities to this day.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provides an opportunity to bring awareness to the painful legacy and impacts of the residential school system.
National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a time to advance our reconciliation efforts to build a better future for everyone in our community.
Reconciliation is the process of healing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, which requires public truth sharing, apology and commemoration that acknowledges and redresses past and present harms.
Building meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities and recognizing Indigenous sovereignty are some of the ways we can commit to this ongoing process.
On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we can learn more and reflect on the meaning of this day by wearing an orange shirt, attending an event, reading the Truth and Reconciliation report, speaking and listening to Elders or simply taking a moment for quiet reflection.