In recent years, September 30th has been known as Orange Shirt Day, so called because of the residential school experiences of the campaign’s founder, Phyllis Webstad.
In June 2021, the federal government announced that September 30th would become “a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation”, a new annual statutory day to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools, and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.
Creating such a federal holiday was one of the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission back in 2015.
Truth and Reconciliation Day was created to provide Canadians with an opportunity to consider what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and to recommit to understanding the truth of our shared history, to accept and learn from it and in doing so, help to create a better, more inclusive Canada.
Individual actions may take the form of personal reflection, education and awareness activities, or by participating in Orange Shirt Day or other community events.
22 Ways to Honour National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day
Watch a video, released on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in which members of the shíshálh Nation share their experiences at residential schools, and the ongoing impacts. (Warning – the explicit accounts related in the video could be traumatic, especially for children.)
Watch The shíshálh Story and Becoming Syiyaya: The Growth of a Grassroots Reconciliation Movement, two excellent short videos about the shíshálh Nation.
Visit the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives to learn about the deep Squamish Nation connection to this area.
Read about the history of the Squamish Nation in the Gibsons area.
View archival photos and read the history of the Sechelt Residential School, which was operated by the Catholic Church from July 28, 1904 to June 30, 1975.
Watch a moving video of the 2015 unveiling ceremony of the Residential School Memorial statue, which stands in the previous location of the Sechelt Residential School (7 minutes).
Listen to shíshálh Nation rememberer xwu’p’a’lich (Barb Higgins) speak about her early life in the inlets of shíshálh Nation territory, and her school days attending school in Egmont.
Wear an orange shirt on September 30th to show your support for survivors of residential schools.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations. The NCTR Archives and Collections is the foundation for ongoing learning and research. Here, Survivors, their families, educators, researchers, and the public can examine the residential school system more deeply with the goal of fostering reconciliation and healing.
The Legacy of Hope Foundation (LHF) is a national, Indigenous-led, charitable organization that has been working to promote healing and Reconciliation in Canada for more than 19 years. The LHF’s goal is to educate and raise awareness about the history and existing intergenerational impacts of the Residential School System (RSS) and subsequent Sixties Scoop (SS) on Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) Survivors, their descendants, and their communities to promote healing and Reconciliation.
Residential Schools in Canada: A Timeline (5 minutes)
We Were Children by Tim Wolochatiuk. In this National Film Board of Canada film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. Available to rent or watch for free on Amazon Prime. (1h 23m)
Indian Horse directed by Stephen Campenelli. An adaptation of Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, this moving drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s Indigenous Residential Schools and the indomitable spirit of aboriginal people. Available to view on Netflix. (1h 40m)
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented the truth of Survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. Its mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools, and it prepared a comprehensive report on the policies and operations of the schools and their lasting impacts. The final report included Ten Principles for Reconciliation and 94 Calls to Action that speak to all sectors of Canadian society.
A Long and Terrible Shadow by Thomas Berger. In this compelling book, respected British Columbian lawyer and Native rights advocate Thomas Berger surveys the history of the Americas since their “discovery” by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Set in Northern Ontario in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this beloved novel follows protagonist Saul Indian Horse as he uses his extraordinary talent for ice hockey to try and escape his traumatic residential school experience. (Winner of Canada Reads People’s Choice award; A Globe and Mail top 100 book of 2012; 2013-2014 First Nation Communities Read Selection; CODE’s Burt Award for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Literature)
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph. The essential guide to understanding the legal document and its repercussion on generations of Indigenous Peoples, written by a leading cultural sensitivity trainer.
CBC Podcast: Unreserved with Rosanna Deerchild: Unreserved is the radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation. Host Rosanna Deerchild takes you straight into Indigenous Canada, from Halifax to Haida Gwaii, from Shamattawa to Ottawa, introducing listeners to the storytellers, culture makers and community shakers from across the country.
Residential Schools is a three-part podcast series created by Historica Canada and hosted by Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais, that discusses the history and legacy of residential schools, with input from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Survivors, their families, and communities.
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