Community| 4 min read

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

We pledge to listen, learn and grow both within our company and in our day-to-day lives — today and every day.
WRITTEN BY Hannah Prince

*Content warning:* This post relates to Indian Residential Schools
A reminder that the Indian Residential School Survivors Society has a 24-hour Crisis Line available: 1-866-925-4419.

Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today we come together to commemorate the painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools in Canada and honour those who were lost and the survivors, families, and communities who continue to grieve.

As most of you know, we care deeply about doing better by our planet — and that includes all of the people who live on it. As a Canadian company, we recognize the colonial history of this country and the importance of acknowledging and holding space for these historical traumas and those affected by them. We pledge to listen, learn and grow both within our company and in our day-to-day lives. Today and every day. 

 

A Brief History of Residential Schools

Between 1831 and 1998, there were 140 federally run Indian Residential Schools operating in Canada. The last of which only closed 23 years ago. Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools that were established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. The system forcibly separated children from their families for extended periods and forbade them to acknowledge their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their languages. Children were severely punished if these, among other, strict rules were broken, and survivors speak of horrendous abuse at the hands of residential school staff. Residential schools provided Indigenous students with inadequate education, often only up to lower grades that focused mainly on prayer and manual labour in agriculture, light industry such as woodworking, and domestic work such as laundry work and sewing.

 

The Path to Reconciliation

The survivors of these residential schools demanded recognition and accountability for the harm and intergenerational trauma these institutions inflicted, which led to the creation of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Running from 2008 to 2015, those who were directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of Indian Residential Schools were given the opportunity to share their personal stories and experiences.

The Commission outlined 94 “calls to action” or recommendations to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples in their final report. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Action 80, which calls for a federal statutory day of commemoration.

 

Why We Wear Orange

In recent years, September 30th was known as Orange Shirt Day. This date aligned with the time of year when children were taken from their homes and placed in residential schools. This Indigenous-led grassroots campaign was born from the story of residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad. On her first day at residential school, she had the new orange shirt her grandmother bought for her taken away. The orange shirt now symbolizes the stripping away of culture and freedom experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

 

Today is a day of understanding, awareness, and support. We recognized that the road towards reconciliation is a long one and we’re by no means perfect, but we’re doing our best to listen, learn and grow. We’ve put together a list of resources intended to help educate and provide support, and we encourage every member of our community to join us on this journey.

 

Resources For Continued Learning

The Residential School System
Learn about residential schools, what led to them, and their ongoing impacts.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
To redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made 94 calls to action. Learn about these recommendations.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Reports
Learn more about the reports created by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which include Survivors’ perspectives.

The Indigenous Learning Series
Under the themes of Recognition, Respect, Relationships, and Reconciliation, the Indigenous Learning Series provides access to resources, courses, workshops, and events on the history, heritage, cultures, rights, and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The Importance of Land Acknowledgement
Learn about the history and importance of land acknowledgments as it relates to colonization and Indigenous trauma.

 

Free Courses & Webinars

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education
In this course, reconciliation emphasizes changing institutional structures, practices, policies, and personal and professional ideologies to create environments that are committed to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Canada
Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson online course from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Canada’s Indigenous histories and contemporary issues. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

Indigenous Cultural Safety Collaborative Learning Series
This series consists of 13 webinars that address anti-Indigenous racism and Indigenous cultural safety in health care, education, and more generally.

Virtual Tour of Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School
This virtual tour will guide you through the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School, giving the institution’s history over its 140-year history and features interviews from five survivors. This event cost $10, which will be donated to the Save the Evidence campaign.

 

Documentaries

Wawahte: Stories of Residential School Survivors
This moving and honest film examines the experiences of three residential school survivors, Elders Esther, Bunnie, and Stanley.

Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger
Alanis Obomsawin’s film tells the story of how the life of Jordan River Anderson initiated a battle for the right of First Nations and Inuit children to receive the same standard of social, health, and educational services as the rest of the Canadian population.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
Directed by Tasha Hubbard, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up weaves a profound narrative encompassing the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands.

 

Indigenous Organizations to Support

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society
IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with intergenerational traumas.

Legacy of Hope Foundation
The Legacy of Hope Foundation is a national, Indigenous-led, charitable organization working to promote healing and Reconciliation in Canada by educating and raising awareness about the history and existing intergenerational impacts of the Residential School System.

Reconciliation Canada
Reconciliation Canada is leading the way in engaging Canadians in dialogue and transformative experiences that revitalize the relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.

Indspire
Indspire is a national Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

Canadian Roots Exchange
Canadian Roots Exchange is a registered charity that provides Indigenous-based leadership, learning, and reconciliation experiences to youth participating in their programs.

First Nations Child & Family Caring Society
The Caring Society works to ensure the safety and well-being of First Nations youth and their families through education initiatives, public policy campaigns, and providing quality resources to support communities.

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