What is the significance of Truth & Reconciliation Day?
The intent behind Truth & Reconciliation is to honour the countless victims of the residential school system in Canada, the lost children and survivors, families, and communities. Public commemoration, and recognition, of the history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is critically important in the reconciliation process, and a focus area of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action
Between 1831 and 1998, Canada operated 139 federally run Indian Residential Schools, with the most recent school closing only 25 years ago. Following the closure of the schools, advocacy for recognition, reparations, and accountability for the lasting legacy of harms caused by these schools took place from its survivors. The results of these advocacy efforts led to:
One major outcome from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the release of its final report, detailing 94 Calls to Action. Of these calls, Call to Action 80 was for the introduction of a federal statutory day of commemoration, which the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th addresses.
Status in Canada
The creation of this federal statutory holiday was through legislative amendments made by Parliament. On June 3, 2021, Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) received Royal Assent. – Government of Canada, 2021
Status in Alberta
Presently, the Government of Alberta does not recognize the holiday across provincially regulated industries. Adrienne South, press secretary for Alberta’s ministry of Indigenous Relations said, “for provincially-regulated industries, the question on a work holiday is a decision for individual employers, unless an employee’s employment contract or collective bargaining agreement specifically grants federally-regulated holidays.” Provinces and territories across Canada are currently divided when it comes to recognizing the new national holiday, wherein six of Canada's provinces and territories — the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island — are observing the federal holiday, and seven others — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nunavut — are not.
How can you participate in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th and beyond?
- Listen to programming available on CBC, Gem, CBC Radio, and the Listen App. In addition, a broadcast special, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, will air at 8pm MST, followed by a new original documentary from CBC Manitoba, We Know the Truth: Stories to Inspire Reconciliation, on CBC. CBC Arts has created a list of more of CBC's content for the day, which you can see here.
- Read into the history of survivors and their families through National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) archives.
- Check out books by indigenous authors about the residential school system. Cree author David A. Robertson has created a list of 48 books by Indigenous writers worth checking out.
- Become informed on the 94 Calls to Action and how you can make change in your community.