National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021 - Today, September 30, 2021, marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day has been commemorated as Orange Shirt Day since 2013.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada originally suggested making this day a Statutory Holiday back in 2015. The legislation was pushed forward after the discovery, in May 2021, of 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. A few weeks later, 751 unmarked graves were discovered at a cemetery east of Regina. Since then, an additional 300 potential burial sites have been identified, and searches continue across Canada.

Canada’s residential schools operated between the 1870s and 1997 and were used “to assimilate” Indigenous children into white Canadian culture. More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were taken from their families and forced to attend church-run, government-funded schools. Many of them were subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and medical experiments.

On September 30, it is our duty to take a moment to reflect and acknowledge these truths: Some of the children who were taken from their families died while attending residential schools and never made it back home. The survivors, their families and communities are still affected today by the trauma of the residential school system. When we all face and accept this reality, however painful, will be the moment we can take a real first step towards reconciliation together as a country. 

Please use this day to pay tribute to these young lives taken away by ideology and violence. The responsibility of reconciliation with Indigenous people rests with each and every one of us.

For resources and podcasts, please visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s web site.

In Solidarity, 

USW Local 1944