Make a Commitment to Reconciliation on the First National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day 2021
September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada. Creating such a federal holiday was one of the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission back in 2015. The day honours all of the children who died and went missing while at residential schools, the Survivors, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation comes in the wake of the discovery of the unmarked grave sites containing the remains of Indigenous children near the former sites of six residential schools in the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.
The new federal statutory holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots movement which grew out of the story of Phyllis Webstad, from Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. Phyllis had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at residential school. Her story, told for the first time in May 2013, has become an annual opportunity to remember and to learn about the atrocities of residential schools.
For the fourth year, Anishnawbe Health Toronto and the Foundation, along with our partner Old’s Cool General Store, are honouring this day by encouraging Torontonians to wear orange t-shirts. Chi-miigwetch to everyone who has ordered a shirt this year from Old’s Cool General Store. Five dollars from every shirt sold is donated to AHF.
This year, we encourage everyone to use this day as a day of reflection and education, and as a day to advance reconciliation in Canada. On Thursday, Anishnawbe Health will be supporting efforts by partnering with Canada Helps on a blog post about Reclaiming Traditional Health Practices by AHT’s Director, Special Projects Michael Milward. We will also be “taking over” Toronto Foundation’s Instagram stories for the day. Earlier this week, we were also invited to take part in a special event at Holy Blossom Temple to educate members of the congregation on the impact of Residential Schools. Thank you to the 160+ people that attended virtually.
We also encourage everyone to invest in Indigenous-led innovative community driven programs. Consider making a donation to our Foundation, become a member of the Sweetgrass Circle and/or sign up for one of our events like our team with the Scotiabank Marathon Charity Challenge.
Commit time on September 30 to learning more about truth and reconciliation. If you haven’t already, read the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the 94 Calls to Action. Here are some useful links:
- Programming from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: https://nctr.ca/education/trw/general-public-schedule/
- City of Toronto: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/indigenous-events-awards/national-day-for-truth-reconciliation/
- 16 RESOURCES TO HELP SETTLERS UNDERSTAND AND ADVANCE INDIGENOUS RECONCILIATION: https://charityvillage.com/16-resources-to-help-settlers-understand-and-advance-indigenous-reconciliation/
And don’t limit yourself to just one day a year.
Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practise reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.
― The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume One: Summary: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future
We also understand that the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation will be difficult for many people who are confronting and healing from trauma. Support is available by contacting your team at Anishnawbe Health Toronto or contacting:
- Hope For Wellness Helpline 1-855-242-3310
- National Indian Residential School Crisis Line’s 24-hour help line, 1-866-925-4419