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8 Most Amazing Facts About Truth and Reconciliation Day

The truth and reconciliation day honours residential school survivors, kids who never made it home, and their families and communities. A crucial step in the healing process is public remembrance of the tragic and painful past and ongoing effects of residential schools.

Canadians are urged to take part in events and activities that foster comprehension, reparation, and reconciliation on Truth and Reconciliation Day. This could entail taking part in rituals, hearing from Indigenous people, learning about the history and consequences of residential schools, and supporting Indian communities. It is a day to consider both the work that has been done and the work that still needs to be done in the direction of reconciliation.

1. Teaching History & Reconciliation

Canada commemorates Truth and Reconciliation day on September 30. This day represents itself to celebrate Indigenous peoples’ tenacity, fortitude, and contributions to Canadian culture. Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families and villages and put to boarding schools sponsored by the government and churches as part of Canada’s residential school system, a sordid period in Canada’s history.

The main objective of the educational system was to assimilate Native children into Euro-Canadian culture, which meant eradicating their language, culture, and traditions. Many of the kids perished from illnesses, neglect, or accidents while others were subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

National Day for Truth & Reconciliation: Universities and schools must acknowledge how colonial education has reproduced anti-Indigenous racism
By Lisa Howell/Copyright 2021

Despite decades of systemic racism, prejudice, and marginalization, they have managed to survive and prosper. The Truth and Reconciliation day honours their contributions to Canada’s social, economic, and political environment while recognizing the depth and diversity of Indigenous people’s cultural practices and traditions.

According to Canadian Heritage, “Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.” This day is a federally recognized holiday. This federal holiday was established through changes to the law approved by Parliament.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which proposed for a day to “commemorate the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools,” recommended that it be made a federally recognized holiday in 2021. The Manitoba government is considering whether to make the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a provincial statutory holiday.

Premier Heather Stefanson says her government will consult with businesses and Indigenous leaders before any decision is made. New Brunswick has decided not to make it a provincial holiday.

2. The Establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Day is a Step Towards Acknowledging the Harms of Residential Schools in Canada

This is a new statutory holiday for employees in federally regulated workplaces or those who have a collective bargaining agreement that identifies they will observe federal statutory holidays. Truth and Reconciliation day is a statutory holiday for federal government employees and private-sector employees to whom the Canada Labour Code applies.

flag of Canada
By Hermes Rivera/Unsplash.Copyright 2018

The TRC was established in 2008 to examine the background and consequences of residential schools and make suggestions for healing. To address the enduring effects of these schools and advance reconciliation between Indigenous also known as First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples, the TRC’s final report, which was published in 2015, contained 94 Calls to Action.

The TRC’s recommendations must be put into action, and bringing attention to the horrific effects of residential schools on Indigenous peoples is one of the TRC’s main goals. This is why Truth and Reconciliation day is so important. The day offers Canadians a chance to consider the past and make a commitment to a common future of forgiveness, healing, and respect.

Citizens can actively support peace and healing in addition to observing Truth and Reconciliation day.

This entails educating themselves on the background and consequences of residential schools, lending support to initiatives and groups led by Indigenous people, speaking out in favour of Indigenous rights and self-determination, and having meaningful conversations and working together with Indigenous peoples and the people involved.

3. The History of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Day

In 2008, Canada’s first Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was created. To assimilate Indigenous people into Canadian society, the residential school system forcefully separated them from their families and communities. The TRC was established to confront this legacy.

Approximately 6,000 residential school survivors told their testimonies to the TRC over six years. To report, which was published in 2015, contained 94 suggestions for how to proceed with reconciliation.

To honour the publication of the TRC’s final report, a national holiday called Truth and Reconciliation Day was established in 2017.

4. Orange Shirt Day

Truth and Reconciliation Day are popularly known as Orange Shirt Day. It is a Canadian statutory holiday to recognize the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system. According to the Orange Shirt Society, the day is designed to open the door to “global conversation on all elements of Residential Schools”

Truth and Reconciliation day
by Joanna Swan/Unsplash.Copyright 2023

The Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation member Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s experiences are credited with giving rise to Orange Shirt Day. Phyllis was kidnapped from her family in 1973 when she was six years old and brought to the St. Joseph Mission residential school near Williams Lake in British Columbia.

Phyllis wore a brand-new orange shirt that her grandmother bought her for her first day of school. The shirt was taken away from her when she got to the school, and she never saw it again. The orange shirt now symbolizes how the residential school system took away the indigenous identities of its students.

The date September 30th is to markOrange Shirt Day, an unofficial day that has been observed since 2013 in memory of a piece of clothing then-six-year-old Phyto’s Webstad had taken from her on her first day at a residential school in 1973.

By mad sci/Unsplash. Copyright 2021

The establishment of the Canadian residential school system in the 19th century was part of a larger initiative to integrate Indigenous peoples into society in Canada. Churches managed the schools, which received federal funding.

Children were taken away from their families and put into these institutions where they were made to accept Christian beliefs and practices, give up their Indigenous culture, and speak English or French. The schools were frequently overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded, which resulted in a variety of physical and psychological abuses. Several kids experienced maltreatment, undernourishment, illness, and even death.

Over the Christian more than a century, over 150,000 Indigenous children are thought to have been kidnapped from their families and placed in residential schools. In Canada, the final residential school closed its doors in 1996. Yet, first nations and their communities are still greatly impacted by the legacy of the residential school system.

Those children have suffered trauma and abuse for decades, which has resulted in intergenerational trauma, language, and cultural loss continued challenges with addiction and mental illness, and social and economic marginalization.

Everyone is encouraged to wear orange and to take part in gatherings to mark the day. Orange Shirt Day is currently observed nationwide in schools, businesses, and community organizations, with events and activities that raise awareness and understanding.

By mad sci/Unsplash. Copyright 2021

There are numerous additional methods for people and communities to help the healing effort than donning orange shirts. It entails acknowledging and combating the lingering effects of colonialism and structural discrimination, as well as seeking to create a society that is more just and equitable for all. Orange Shirt Day serves as a potent reminder of the trauma that Canada’s residential school system has inflicted on Indigenous communities

Every child matters
By Divine Clark/Unsplash. Copyright 2022

Every Child Matters: A National Conversation was broadcast by CBC Television and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network on October 11, 2020. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation produced the television show Reconciliation through Education to commemorate Orange Shirt Day by featuring the testimonies of several residential school survivors.

5. Exploring What This Means for Reconciliation in Canada

Reconciliation means the process of mending ties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. First Nations have been displaced, marginalized, and oppressed throughout the country’s colonial history. There is still much work to be done, but the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which operated from 2008 to 2015, was a significant step in recognizing and addressing this history.

a very large orange flag flying in the sky
By Chris Robert/Unsplash. Copyright 2021

6. The Decision on Indigenous Children’s Rights

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in January 2021 that the underfunding of child welfare services on reservations by the Canadian government had resulted in discrimination against the Indigenous community.

The court’s decision mandated that the government compensate Indigenous communities and their families as well as take action to end the systemic discrimination that has resulted in an overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system.

A Conversation on Truth & Reconciliation on the eve of Canada’s second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Yellowhead Institute is hosting an important conversation on the Calls to Action

As it highlights the continued effects of colonialism and prejudice on First Nations, this decision has enormous ramifications for reconciliation. It also emphasizes how critical it is to address the injustices and inequality that still impact Indigenous communities.

7. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Calls to Action

The TRC issued several Calls to Action in 2015 as part of its mission with the goal of resolving the legacy of residential schools and achieving reconciliation in Canada. These Calls to Action are a significant legacy of the TRC and have been a major point of emphasis for people.

By Hidesy/Unsplash. Copyright 2014

Those addressed to the federal government and those addressed to other institutions and groups, such as churches, educational institutions, and the corporate sector, are the two primary divisions of the calls to action. Key Calls to Action include the following:

  • Ensuring that Canada adopts and carries out the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Making sure that all government policies and actions are in line with the Declaration entails working on Indigenous relations to create a national action plan to put into practice.
  • Provide tools to aid in the revitalization of Indigenous languages, such as funding for language immersion programs and the creation of language learning materials.
  • Ensuring that all Canadians are educated on the history and legacy of residential schools, including its causes and effects, survivor experiences, and their continued effects on Indigenous peoples.
  • Launching a national investigation into the disappearances and deaths of Indigenous women and girls and taking steps to address the underlying causes of abuse against them.

To address the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation in the country, the Calls to Action are a crucial first step. However, the implementation of these Calls has been sluggish, and numerous Indigenous voices and individuals have demanded greater action to address the lingering effects of residential schools and to promote Indigenous peoples’ self-determination.

8. Bringing the Reconciliation Process Forward

In conclusion, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action serves as a crucial road map for promoting peace and addressing the legacy of residential schools. Truth and Reconciliation Day serves as a reminder that reconciliation efforts must continue.

All Canadians must remain dedicated to the cause and take action. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, assisting Indigenous-led projects, and striving to alleviate structural injustices and inequalities suffered by Indigenous peoples are all necessary steps in moving reconciliation ahead. Recognizing the ongoing effects of colonialism and committing to a future built on respect and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are also part of it.

To address the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation in the country, the Calls to Action are a crucial first step. However, the implementation of these Calls has been sluggish, and numerous Indigenous voices and individuals have demanded greater action to address the lingering effects of residential schools and to promote Indigenous peoples’ self-determination.

All Canadians must support the execution of these Calls and fight to create a society that is more just and equitable for Indigenous peoples. We can only start to mend the wounds of the past and move forward constructively as a community if we are committed to truth-telling accountability, and reparative justice.

This calls for a consistent effort to hear what Indigenous peoples have to say, to learn from them, to acknowledge wrongs done, and to work cooperatively towards a common vision of a just and equitable future.

Observing the national day of truth and reconciliation throughout September we humbly ask that you participate in these events as well as help to raise awareness of the day by sharing this information with fellow students, colleagues, family, and friends. Please show your support and wear orange on September 30th to honour survivors.

It is a call to action for all Canadians to address historical injustices and strive towards a better future where Indigenous voices and rights are properly valued and upheld.

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