Tomorrow, September 30th 2021, marks Canada’s first official Truth and Reconciliation Day. This is not just another holiday or day-off, but rather an opportunity to take the time to educate ourselves and participate in the country’s Truth and Reconciliation process.
The introduction of this statutory holiday is a response to the Call To Action section of the Truth and Reconciliation and the government’s “public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools [that] remains a vital component of the reconciliation process” as detailed in the final report. Tomorrow, and everyday, all of us have the responsibility to not just recognize the efforts towards Truth and Reconciliation in the country, but to actively participate in it. The residential schools and intergenerational trauma experienced by indigenous people on their land is both a history and lived reality that needs to be not just witnessed but met with actionable steps towards reconciliation.
This year’s Truth and Reconciliation Day coincides with Orange Shirt Day. Observed once a year since 2013, Orange Shirt Day seek to recognize and raise awareness on the history and ongoing legacy of the residential school system in Canada. A grass-rooted and indigenous-led movement, wearing Orange symbolizes the lived indigenous experience of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem and now represents a taking back of these things.
Wear an orange shirt tomorrow
Buy a shirt from the official Orange Shirt Day organization if you can from one of these retailers. Or simply be aware of where you are buying an orange shirt because many indigenous artists have had their orange shirt designs stolen by major retailers.
Support indigenous-owned businesses
There are tons of authentic, indigenous-owned businesses in each community. Take the time and do your research so you know your money is supporting indigenous artists, events and communities. Close to home, Indigenous Tourism Ontario is a wonderful organization that seeks to unite indigenous communities and industries to aid the growth of Indigenous-led tourism in the province. Furthermore, Destination Indigenous is also a great resource to buy and travel that supports indigenous communities.
Follow indigenous educators on social media to continue your education and engagement long-term
Take the time to learn about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Amplify and prioritize indigenous voices and work. Have meaningful conversations with those in your circle about the TRC. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is another great resource for continuing your education.
Listen to experiences that make you uncomfortable
Contemplate any personal discomfort resulting from Canada’s actions. Learn how to properly acknowledge the land we live on and the history behind the Land Back movement. CBC Indigenous will be running content all day tomorrow that highlights First Nations, Métis and Inuit experiences and perspectives for you to watch and listen. The organization, On Canada Project also has a great resource for ally-ship and continuing vital conversations
Demand real action from our government to deliver on the Calls To Action from the TRC report
Read the 94 Calls To Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report and consider what you can do to participate in the work that needs to be done. Join in community support funding for the residential schools missing children.
There is so much more to be done, but tomorrow is a good day to continue doing the work yourself.
National Residential School Crisis Line: 1 – 866 – 925 – 4419
First Nation and Inuit Hope and Wellness 24/7 Help Line: 1 – 855 – 242 – 3310