National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Canada’s inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes places this year, September 30, and honours Survivors, their families and Indigenous communities. It establishes a formal public commemoration for the tragic, painful, and ongoing impact of residential schools that will remain a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Building on grassroots momentum
The date of September 30 builds on the grassroots momentum of Orange Shirt Day (#OrangeShirtDay), which was launched in 2013 to call attention to 165 years of residential school experiences. For residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, the severing of the threads connecting her to family, community, and culture began in 1973, when the beautiful orange shirt she wore to her first day of school was stripped from her and never seen again. The removal of the orange shirt was the first of a series of destructive methods enforced to deplete her sense of self-worth, erase her culture, and suppress her spirit.
Residential schools were part of colonial assimilationist politics that removed indigenous children from their communities and families. There were 140 federally run Indian Residential Schools which operated in Canada between 1831 and 1998. The last closed only 23 years ago.
Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the lasting legacy of harms caused. These efforts culminated in several initiatives including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran from 2008 and 2015 and which produced 94 calls to action in its final report.
An opportunity for all Canadians to reflect
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. It is an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize and reflect on the legacy of residential schools. Everyone in Canada has a role to play in learning about and addressing the legacy of residential schools, the impact on Survivors and of the many children who never returned home.
Canada’s commitment to Survivors
Canada remains committed to supporting Survivors, and the families and communities that continue to be impacted by the legacy of residential schools. We respect and understand Indigenous leaders and communities know best what the need, and we are committed to being there to support them.
Resources to learn more
The National Film Board of Canada has compiled a series of short but powerful documentaries and feature films that explore the impact and ongoing harm done to generations of Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit Peoples in Canada. We invite you to watch them and to learn more about Canada’s ongoing efforts toward reconciliation.
You can also learn more by following @CdnHeritage on Twitter and the hashtag #NDTR