National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

What is The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Sep 14, 2021

September 30th, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday in Canada. This day provides Canadians with an opportunity to recognize and reflect on the ongoing legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.

Indian Residential Schools for Indigenous Peoples in Canada date back to the 1870s; the last Indian Residential School in Canada closed in 1996. These schools were government funded, supported by “Indian Agents” and police, and church run. During this time, there were over 130 Indian Residential Schools located across Canada which more than 150,000 Indigenous children attended, often by force, against the wishes of their parents. At these schools, many children were forbidden to speak their own languages and taught to be ashamed of their own cultures; the end goal was to extinguish the cultures of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and assimilate their children into colonial society.

It has been documented that children experienced physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, and spiritual abuse during their time in Canadian Indian Residential Schools.

There are an estimated 80,000 former Indian Residential School survivors living today.

Truth and Reconciliation is part of a holistic and comprehensive response to the Indian Residential School legacy in Canada. It acknowledges how this legacy continues, and recognizes the harm experienced by the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. It also recognizes and emphasizes the need for continued healing and requires the involvement of all Canadians.

Truth and Reconciliation came into existence as the result of the largest class action lawsuit in our country’s history when former Indian Residential School students took the federal government and churches to court which led to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is a component of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada. It documents the truth of survivors, families, communities, and anyone personally affected by the Indian Residential School system.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) was created as part of the mandate of the TRC. The TRC was charged to listen to Survivors, their families, communities, and others affected by the residential school system and educate Canadians about their experiences. The NCTR provides a permanent, safe home for all statements, documents and other materials gathered and serves as a place of dialogue and learning where the truths of the Indian Residential School experience is honoured and kept safe for generations of the future.

There are 94 Calls to Action that have been published by the TRC. They are specific to Canada and focus on addressing the historical and ongoing damage caused by the Indian Residential School system. The CTR’s Calls to Action address:

  • Child welfare
  • Education
  • Language & Culture
  • Health
  • Justice
  • Reconciliation
  • Equity for Aboriginal People in the Legal System
  • National Council for Reconciliation
  • Professional Development and Training for Public Servants
  • Church Apologies and Reconciliation

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was implemented through Bill C-5, a direct response to Call to Action 80 of the CTR’s Calls to Action. Call to Action 80 states:

“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process”

As of August 26, 2021:

  • 13 Calls to Action have been completed,
  • 29 are in progress with projects underway,
  • 32 are in progress with projects proposed, and
  • 20 have not been started.

Organization Culture Initiatives will be posting summations on each Call to Action leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to help empower yourselves, your workplaces, and your families with fundamental information so that you can participate in the important dialogue that surrounds the significance of September 30th.

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