NCCIH: Canada’s journey of truth and reconciliation

Press Release

Canada’s journey of truth and reconciliation

Each year, September 30 marks both Orange Shirt Day as well as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this day, the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH) joins other Indigenous organizations in honouring and remembering the survivors of residential schools as well as the children who never came home from them, and reflecting upon the on-going, intergenerational impacts of the schools on Indigenous individuals, families, and communities throughout the country.

A national holiday for public commemoration and reconciliation

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a federal statutory holiday, enacted June 3, 2021 by the Canadian parliament in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #80. The holiday seeks to ensure the public commemorates the horrors and legacy of residential schools and honours First Nations, Inuit, and Métis survivors and their families and communities. This is an essential part of the reconciliation process for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

Numerous provinces and territories have also enacted legislation to make September 30 a provincial statutory holiday, including British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon.

Join us in wearing orange

Orange Shirt Day is a grassroots movement that seeks to raise awareness of the intergenerational impacts of residential schools on individuals, families, and communities.

Founded by Phyllis Webstad, Orange Shirt Day grew out of Phyllis’ own experiences as a residential school survivor. She was sent to St. Joseph’s Mission near Williams Lake B.C. when she was six years old. Upon arrival, she was stripped of a bright orange shirt her grandmother had purchased and she proudly wore as a new outfit to start school. She never saw the shirt again.

Originally organized as a commemorative event for survivors in the Williams Lake area, Orange Shirt Day has since been adopted and promoted by organizations, communities, and public entities throughout Canada as an opportunity to honour all residential school survivors, aide in their healing, and contribute to reconciliation efforts.

We invite all Canadians to join us on Canada’s journey of truth and reconciliation this September 30 by wearing orange, participating in public forums or discussions on the harms of residential schools, and learning about how these institutions continue to impact the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada.

Sheila Blackstock and Daniel Sims, NCCIH Academic Co-leaders

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