National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Headquartered in Surrey, BC, ASTTBC acknowledges the traditional Lands of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen Peoples.
We thank our hosts for their graciousness in welcoming us to carry out our work on their Land. In so doing, we recognize their inherent Indigenous rights and title, the implementation without qualification of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and our support for the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Honouring Indigenous Resilience
The federal government passed a legislation to mark September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and designated as Orange Shirt Day. Also, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has identified this week (Sept 27 – Oct 1) as Truth and Reconciliation Week.
The designation of this day is in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 Calls to Action and is meant to honour Indigenous survivors, their families, and communities. It also ensures the ongoing commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools, remaining a vital part of the reconciliation process.
Raising awareness about what happened in residential schools isn’t the sole goal of the TRC, said Murray Sinclair, more importantly, the Commission endeavours “to make it part of our national memory,” so that we never forget and repeat the same mistakes. “That’s why legislating it, I think, was important, because it forces you to acknowledge that this day, something happened,” he said.
ASTTBC is honored to recognize this special day not only to acknowledge the legacy of residential schools, but also to celebrate our Indigenous communities and their heritage. Let’s use this opportunity to consider what each one of us can do to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and commit to learning and understanding the truth of our shared history.
Education is the Key
We are also thrilled to report that our team, Council, and committee members have completed their Indigenous Awareness Training supporting shared reconciliation efforts.
ASTTBC has partnered with Indigenous Awareness Canada (IAC) to provide complimentary training to all practising registrants which meets all learning recommendations made by the TRC.
“Education is the key to reconciliation,” said Sinclair, but noted that educating from the ground up in classrooms will make more impact that commemorative events could ever make.
By learning about Indigenous Peoples and their history, registrants will create greater understanding and enhance communications between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and help build more trusting and respectful relationships, communities, and employment opportunities.
Supporting Orange Shirt Day
One of the Commission’s 94 calls to action was for a national day to honour Indigenous children in residential schools – those lives that were lost and those who survived.
Supporting this call to action, the Orange Shirt Day and creating awareness during the Truth and Reconciliation Week, the team at ASTTBC will be wearing their orange shirts beautifully designed by Natasha Root, a Mi’gmaq artist from Listuguj First Nation, Quebec (pictured below).
Her design reflects love, resilience, and strength for Indigenous children. It has an eagle protecting the children who are grasping onto fallen feathers but also symbolizes falling leaves of a tree that is in the centre point. Children in residential schools have grown with strength – and this is the resilient story that the design tells.
Why Orange Shirt?
Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation is a spokesperson for the Orange Shirt Day Reunion and a residential school survivor, who’s story inspired the movement. When Phyllis was six, her grandmother gave her an orange shirt for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission in British Columbia. When Phyllis got to school, they took away her new shirt, never to be returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at the residential school and, as she has said, “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.” Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013.
- Participate in a weeklong events hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a series of online events open to the public. The weeklong schedule of events includes historical workshops, videos, artists and more.
- Watch Aboriginal Peoples Television Network programming. To welcome this day of remembrance, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is offering a full day of programming to raise awareness about the significance and meaning of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
- Read articles and books by Indigenous authors and learn about the experiences of survivors and their families.
- Considering the roles you hold at work and home, talk about and share what the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means to you and your commitment toward reconciliation.
- Acknowledge the Indigenous land where you work, study, or play before online and in-person meetings.
- Wear your Orange Shirt – not just on September 30 but also during the year.
#DrumForTheChildren at 2:15 PM
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is inviting people across the world to simultaneously drum for the missing children of residential schools on the first ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021. The time, 2:15 pm, was chosen to signify the 215 children found on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May of this year. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is urging everyone to learn, play or perform the Secwépemc Honour Song.
Contact the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society (IRSSS). IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.