Learning, Listening, and Rebuilding Relationships
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 30 is now a federal statutory holiday known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
It’s a day to recognize and commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools. Approximately 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools between the 1870s and 1996. It is estimated that between four and six thousand did not return home. Many of those who did return were left traumatized, and this has impacted generations of Indigenous communities.
The government chose September 30 because it was previously recognized as Orange Shirt Day by Indigenous groups and supporters. This day created meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the tragic legacy they left behind. It continues to be a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, as do those who have been affected.
As this holiday was passed under the Canada Labour Code, the holiday only applies to federally regulated employers. It does not apply to provincially regulated employers (which are the majority of employers) unless a provincial legislature makes similar amendments to provincial employment standards legislation, or a company’s collective agreement has provisions to observe all federal holidays. As September 30 draws near, members should ask their stewards about how their workplace plans to handle the holiday. Stewards, refer to your collective agreement for information on holidays and communicate the findings within your workplace. Contact your CLAC representative or your employer if you need more information.
Though it will take time to rebuild relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, here are some ideas on how you can honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
- Learn about the history of residential schools. There are many free resources available online. Through learning you can understand the importance of restoring broken relationships and healing Indigenous communities. Some resources can be found at the bottom of this page.
- Learn about the 94 Calls to Action and reconciliation here. The 94 Calls to Action are the instructions to guide governments, communities, and faith groups down the road to reconciliation created by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
- Attend events. With COVID-19 still prevalent, most events are virtual, which makes them even easier to attend. Events to consider can be found at the bottom of this page.
- Show your support. Purchase orange shirts and wear them on September 30 to show allyship or buy informational booklets to read. In this booklet you will find the TRC’s 10 Principles of Reconciliation, the 94 Calls to Action, and the 46 Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). These documents are instruments of reconciliation that should be read and considered together.
Learn More about Residential Schools
Sleeping Children Awake | Magic Arrow Productions
Sleeping Children Awake is one of the earliest independent, feature length documentaries to broadcast on the residential school system. It won several awards including "Best Canadian Documentary 1993."
Stolen Children: Residential School Survivors Tell Their Stories | CBC
Stolen Children explores the impact of residential schools on former students and their children and grandchildren. Survivors share their harrowing experiences and discuss the legacy of fear, abuse, and suicide being passed down from generation to generation.
We were children | NFB
In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government's residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years.
The Secret Path | CBC Arts
This powerful animated film tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwa boy who died of exposure in 1966 while running away from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario.
Violation of Trust | The Fifth Estate
A searing examination of Canada's 100 years of native residential schools, where Indigenous children had their culture and language beaten out of them, leaving a legacy of alcoholism, abuse, and emotional scars.
What is Reconciliation?
Beyond 94: Truth and Reconciliation in Canada
St. Joseph's Residential School Stories: Orange Shirt Day
Murray Sinclair’s statement on the discovery at the former residential school site in Kamloops
Phyllis Webstad Orange Shirt Day Presentation
“The Stranger” - Gord Downie – First chapter of “The Secret Path”
Truth and Reconciliation: 94 Calls to Action recordings
#126: Truth and Reconciliation: Inclusivity and active listening are key to achieving authentic reconciliation in Canada
For Truth and Accountability: Justice for the death of First Nation children in Canada
Truth and Reconciliation offers 94 “calls to action”
Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 status update on reconciliation
21 Things You May Not Have Known About the Indian Act
Candlelight Vigil through the Indigenous Ministries Facebook page, September 30 7:00 p.m. ET via The United Church: Orange Shirt Day 2021.
Bringing Our Children Home Series: Reconciliation Canada on Saturdays 1:00 p.m. ET on Zoom, or watch past events on YouTube.
The Eight Annual Nurturing Our Roots Pow Wow – Virtual Edition. Join virtually on October 4 from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. via the livestream on FirstOntarioPAC.ca or on the PAC's Facebook and YouTube channels.