What is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Sep 29 2021, 6:56 pm

Canada will have its first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Different organizations, companies, and individuals will be marking the day in their own way.

Here’s what the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means for you and how you can considerately join in the conversation:

What is National Truth and Reconciliation Day?

National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a new a federal statutory holiday that “honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities,” 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,” says Canadian Heritage.

It was officially made a holiday on June 3, 2021, shortly after the remains of 215 children were found at the site the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Back in 2015, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) reviewed the country’s residential schools and published 94 Calls to Action.

The calls to action pushed for all levels of government to work together to help rebuild the relationship between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians.

Later that year, the TRC released its entire 6-volume final report, which you can read on the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website.

Now, Canada has an official federal statutory holiday to continue the this process of reconciliation.

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Where National Truth and Reconciliation Day was started by the official Canadian government, Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots movement. It’s also on Thursday, September 30, 2021. The day is meant to open the door to “global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools,” according to the Orange Shirt Society.

It’s a day “for Survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.  Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.”

Former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story in part sparked the movement. When she was six years old, her grandmother bought her a new orange shirt to go to school. When she got to school, they took her shirt from her and didn’t give it back.

“The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared,” said Webstad.

Today, you can join in Orange Shirt Day by purchasing and wearing an official Orange Shirt.

Is Orange Shirt Day a holiday?

Orange Shirt Day itself is not a holiday. It takes place on Thursday, September 30 and is on the same day as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which is a federal statutory holiday.

There are many organizations and companies who have made the decision to recognize the holiday and offer the day off for organizations to participate. However, it’s not mandatory for most people.

While most holidays are Canada-wide, each province has its own stat holidays. For example, New Years Day is a national holiday, but Louis Riel Day is only a provincial stat holiday in Manitoba. Find out what National Truth and Reconciliation Day in each province will look like in 2021.

What do you do on National Truth and Reconciliation Day?

Even if you aren’t getting the day off work or school for National Truth and Reconciliation Day, there are still lots of ways that you can participate.

You can check out what’s happening in your community including performances, workshops, gatherings, and events. Also, you can learn more about Indigenous culture with free resources any day of the year.

So get yourself an official orange shirt and wear it on September 30, 2021. There’s even an official hashtag, #NDTR, so you can join in the conversation on social media.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for those experiencing pain, distress, or trauma as a result of their residential school experience. More information can be found here.
Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

+ News