FIVE WAYS TO OBSERVE NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
Every year on September 30th we are called to stand in solidarity with Indigenous, Métis and First Nations peoples all over Canada and to honour their experiences.
The federal government marked the first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021, following years of advocacy by Indigenous peoples seeking justice and Call to Action 80 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
This new federal statutory holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots movement to honour survivors of the Indian Residential School System. Orange shirts became a symbol of solidarity after Phyllis (Jack) Webstad shared her story of her brand-new orange shirt being taken away on her first day at the St. Joseph Mission Residential School when she was six-years-old.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for reflection, learning and advocacy.
Here are five ways to honour this important day.
1. SUPPORT SURVIVORS
The residential school system was created with the intention of stripping Indigenous children of their culture, language, and family bonds, leaving a legacy of intergenerational trauma.
IATSE 891 is giving away orange shirts in exchange for donations to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) or the Spirit of the Children Society (SOTCS). These two organizations provide survivors and their families with counselling and other essential supports.
Members and permitees can donate here to the IRSSS or SOTCS and bring proof of donation to the Union Hall (located at 1640 Boundary Rd. in Burnaby) before Oct. 7, 2022 to receive an orange shirt designed by 891 member Cheryl Marion. We suggest a donation of $20, or what you can afford.
Cheryl Marion, a Métis artist who has been a member of the Union since 1999, designed the orange shirt being handed out by the Union in exchange for donations to the IRSSS or SOTCS.
Over a span of four years, roughly 6,500 survivors took part in hearings held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, sharing testimony of horrific widespread abuse in the residential school system. Between 4,000 and 6,000 children died in residential schools in Canada, according to conservative estimates by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Final Report.
- Familiarize yourself with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's 94 Calls to Action here.
- Learn about the memorial created by Haida artist Tamara Bell, which inspired Cheryl Marion's orange shirt design, here.
- Read IATSE 891 member Cheryl Marion’s essay about her Métis family history here.
Reconciliation requires acknowledgement of hard truths, but also a celebration of Indigenous people’s resilience and cultures. Here are a few opportunities to listen to Indigenous voices on September 30th.
- Our next Apple Box Talks podcast features an interview with Bruce Allan, an Indigenous elder and a residential school survivor. You can listen to the podcast episode here.
- Music can be a powerful medium for storytelling, healing, and cultural resilience. A playlist with a mix of music from Juno Award winning Indigenous artists, including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jeremy Dutcher, and The Jerry Cans can be found here.
Bruce Allan, pictured here in Grade 7 in a red shirt on the farthest right corner, shares his story on the Apple Box Talks podcast.
These incredible short and feature-length documentaries and films showcase the stories of Indigenous resistance, creativity, and strength.
- Vancouver filmmaker Amar Chebib directed a beautiful 15-minute documentary about skateboard legend Joe Buffalo — a survivor of Canada's Residential School system who found healing through skateboarding and mentoring the next generation. Stream it for free on The New Yorker's YouTube channel here.
- Beans is a film about the Oka Crisis told from the perspective of a young Indigenous girl. Created by Mohawk director and screenwriter Tracey Deer, the film won Best Motion Picture and the John Dunning Best First Feature Film at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards. It’s streaming-on-demand through Crave, iTunes / Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play and more. Watch the trailer here and read more about it here.
- The National Film Board of Canada has a collection of films featuring Indigenous voices and exploring themes of reconciliation, all free to stream online, here.
Participate in events taking place in your community to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Here are just a few happening around the Lower Mainland.
- Spirit of the Children Society will host a pipe ceremony at Westminster Pier Park from 3 pm to 6 pm to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools on Sept. 30.
- A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Healing Walk will be hosted by Vancouver Career College’s Abbotsford campus from 10:30 am to 2 pm on Sept. 30.
- The Port Moody Station museum will be screening three documentaries about reconciliation on Sept. 30. Catch Honour Senator Murray Sinclair at 10 am, The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters from 11-12 pm, and Keepers of the Fire from 12:30-1:30 pm.
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is offering free admission Sept. 30 – Oct. 2.
- At the Centre of Community: An Exhibition of Indigenous Cultural Practices takes place at both the Roundhouse Community Centre and across several Vancouver city parks. It includes arts exhibits, performances, screenings, talks, and maker workshops Sept. 22 to Oct. 1.
Support is available for survivors or anyone needing support:
1-800-721-0066 (crisis line for Indian Residential School Survivors Society)
1-800-588- 8717 (KUU-US Crisis Line Society)
1-800-784-2433 (BC Crisis Centre, open 24 hrs, 7 days a week, in multiple languages)