September 30 of each year officially marks Truth & Reconciliation Day in Canada. However, newcomers to Canada are likely unfamiliar with this particular day of remembrance. Let’s take a brief look at the basics of Truth & Reconciliation Day and share some resources to help you become more familiar with this important day.
What is Truth & Reconciliation Day?
Truth & Reconciliation Day was created by the Canadian Parliament to provide a day to remember survivors of residential schools and those children who died. It is also a way to acknowledge the negative impact of residential schools on families and communities.
For newcomers unfamiliar with residential schools, they refer to a system of schools that churches and the Canadian government set up to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of thinking and acting. These were boarding schools where children were sent away to live. Children were severely punished and often abused. Several thousand children died from abuse, neglect, disease, or accidents.
Residential schools cost the lives of children while also working to actively erase the cultures of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. You may also hear Truth & Reconciliation Day referred to as Orange Shirt Day, as Canadians are encouraged to wear orange. This is intended to represent the stripping away of culture, freedom, and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children.
Newcomers to Canada are invited to participate in this National Day of Remembrance and encouraged to learn more about Indigenous history and the importance of this day. Here are four essential resources that can help you learn more about Truth & Reconciliation Day.
Government of Canada
The government of Canada’s website provides basic information about Truth & Reconciliation Day. Here, people will find an overview of what the day means and what led to its creation. You will also find several helpful links that can help you better prepare to participate in Truth & Reconciliation Day.
The site contains information such as television broadcasts of remembrances, the illumination of Parliament Hill, events associated with Orange Shirt Day, and virtual sessions aimed at school children to recognize Truth & Reconciliation Week. The site also has its own resources for those wanting to learn more about Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their languages.
Indigenous Foundations serve as a resource covering the histories, politics, and cultures of the Indigenous peoples in Canada. While initially created to support students at the University of British Columbia, it also provides more information about Indigenous people to the general public.
This website contains a wealth of information aimed at the history of Indigenous people, including in-depth information about the residential schools. This serves as a good resource for those wanting to learn more about the residential schools, their history, their effects on Indigenous peoples, and their continued negative effects within communities today.
It is relatively easy to navigate the site as well as easy to read. Another benefit of this website is that it serves as a vast resource for those hoping to learn more about the overall culture of Indigenous communities throughout Canada.
Assembly of First Nations
The Assembly of First Nations is a national organization that aims to advocate for the collective needs of all First Nations communities throughout Canada. This organization represents the approximately 900,000 First Nations in the country. Among the issues that its advocacy takes on are treaties, Indigenous rights, and stewardship of lands and resources
This website is a good resource for those wanting to understand what issues are important to the First Nations community in Canada. While each First Nation is distinct in terms of culture and sovereignty, this organization aims to address larger-scale issues and is an interesting resource for those wanting to learn more about the current state of Indigenous persons within Canada.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The United Nations is a global organization that aims to help advance the needs of all people around the globe. Among its many works are efforts to support and protect Indigenous persons. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a document that seeks to codify the rights that all Indigenous persons should have throughout the world.
The document was initially adopted by the UN in 2007 by a vote of 143-4, with 11 countries not voting. While one of the four nations initially voting against it was Canada, Canada later reversed their position to support this declaration. This declaration seeks to establish the minimum rights and fundamental freedoms applied to Indigenous peoples. It is worth a read to better understand the minimum commitment expected of Canada towards Indigenous persons.
On this Truth & Reconciliation Day, we invite you to take some time to review these resources to learn a little more about the day and what it means for all of us in Canada.