Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day honours the children who never returned home and the Survivors of Residential Schools, as well as 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.
There were 140 federally run residential schools in Canada that operated between 1831 and 1998. The last school closed less than 25 years ago. Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the intergenerational impacts of harms caused.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ran from 2008 to 2015 and provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the residential schools policy with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. 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.
Resources to learn more:
- Watch this short video of Chief Robert Joseph as he shares his experience as a residential school survivor. https://youtu.be/2zuRQmwaREY
- Indigenous peoples and cultures
- Learn about the unique history, languages, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
- Indigenous languages
- Learn more about the tools and programs in place to help support the reclamation, revitalization, maintaining and strengthening of Indigenous languages in Canada.
- Indigenous history in Canada
- Learn more about the contributions of Indigenous peoples from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 through the world wars to today.
- Learn how the Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.
Every Child Matters
In July of 2014, the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution declaring 30 September Orange Shirt Day. It committed members to raising awareness of the day and its message. Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation now both share September 30th.
The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.
The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
On this day of September 30th, we call upon humanity to listen with open ears to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t make it.
The Survivors’ Flag
The Survivors’ Flag is an expression of remembrance, meant to honour residential school Survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada. Each element depicted on the flag was carefully selected by Survivors from across Canada, who were consulted in the flag’s creation.
Learn about each element of the flag by visiting the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. https://nctr.ca/exhibits/survivors-flag/
Former residential school students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.
Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention.
Call the toll-free Helpline at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.
- Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack
- The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund is part of Gord Downie’s legacy and embodies his commitment, and that of his family, to improving lives of First Peoples in Canada. In collaboration with the Wenjack Family, the goal of the Fund is to continue the conversation that began with Chanie Wenjack’s residential school story, and to aid our collective reconciliation journey through a combination of awareness, education, and action.
- Orange Shirt Day
- Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013.
- The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- The NCTR is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations.
- Hope for Wellness Hotline
- The Hope for Wellness Helpline is available to all Indigenous people across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent counsellors are reachable by telephone and online ‘chat’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission 94 Calls to Action:
- Government of Canada