Access MyVeritext Client Portal
September 30th, 2022
In June of 2021, the Canadian federal government passed legislation to mark September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is designated as an opportunity to ‘recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.’ It was originally proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish a statutory holiday “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.”
Since 2013, September 30 has already been observed as Orange Shirt Day. This was a movement to recognize the colonial legacy of residential schools and commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day is based on the experience of residential school survivor Phyllis (Jack) Webstad who, at six, was stripped of her new orange shirt on her first day attending the St. Joseph Mission Residential School near Williams Lake, BC. The date of September 30 was chosen because it was the time of year when most Indigenous children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools for the fall start.
“Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.”
― The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume One: Summary: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future
The Witness Blanket is a large-scale installation by artist and master carver Carey Newman, inspired by a woven blanket. (Source)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission lasted from 2008 to 2015. The Commission released its final report detailing 94 calls to action. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
The resulting collection of statements, documents and other materials now forms the sacred heart of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Across Canada, people have been wearing orange shirts on September 30th to acknowledge the legacy of colonial residential school, and you can learn more about Phyllis (Jack) Webstad and her new shiny orange shirt here. But there are other stories, and the interactive Witness Blanket is a good place to read and hear the pain of the survivors of the residential school system. You can explore it here.
There were over 140 residential schools across Canada. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has many resources about the terrible legacy of genocide and colonization that these schools represented here.
You can learn how to support the Orange Shirt Day movement here.
The Government of Canada has links and resources on Truth and Reconciliation too.
As we continue our reconciliation journey, many charities are leading efforts to support Indigenous Peoples and this process of reconciliation. These charities are Indigenous-led or guided by Indigenous cultures, values, and voices at their core.
Residential School Memorial
Read the origin of Orange Shirt Day
Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.
In Unsettling the Settler Within, Paulette Regan, a former residential-schools-claims manager, argues that in order to truly participate in the transformative possibilities of reconciliation, non-Aboriginal Canadians must undergo their own process of decolonization.
Fatty Legs is the moving memoir of an Inuit girl who emerges from a residential school with her spirit intact.
Social Responsibility, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, and Sustainable Operations.