September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
The creation of this federal statutory day was through legislative amendments made by Parliament.
Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, on her first day of school, where she arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
40 years later, on September 30, 2013, Phyllis spoke publicly for the first time about her experience, and thus began the Orange Shirt Day movement.
On September 30, Canadians are encouraged to wear orange to raise awareness of the very tragic legacy of residential schools, and to honour the thousands of Survivors.
To commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and to honour the Survivors, their families and communities, buildings across Canada will be illuminated in orange September 29 and/or September 30, from 7:00 pm to sunrise the next morning. This will include federal buildings such as the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.
Truth and Reconciliation Week is a 5-day, bilingual educational event will include programming designed for students in grades 5 through 12 along with their teachers and feature Indigenous Elders, youth and Survivors. The event will be pre-recorded and webcasted, allowing for schools and classrooms participation from across the country and the involvement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
There were 140 federally run Indian Residential Schools which operated in Canada between 1831 and 1998. The last school closed only 23 years ago. Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the lasting legacy of harms caused.
This solemn day has been established to honour the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities, and to ensure public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools as a vital component of the reconciliation process. From approximately the 1880s until 1996, the Indian Residential School System removed an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children from their families and communities as part of an official policy to eliminate Indigenous cultures. The creation of this day is Action 80 among the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
Together, let’s commit to meaningfully commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, and continuing to walk this road for years and generations to come. The Canadian government designated September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, beginning in 2021. This responds to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 80, which states that the federal government will work with Indigenous people to establish a statutory day 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”.
The Cargo Spectrum Team