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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is recognized on September 30th to inform and remind Canadians about the history of residential schools and to honour the victims and survivors, their families, and their communities.
The residential school system was established by the Canadian government and run by the church with the stated goal of educating Indigenous children. But the more harmful and equally explicit goal was to influence them into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of life and assimilate them into mainstream white Canadian society. The residential school system started operating in the 1880s, with the last school closing in 1996. The schools and their impacts are not just part of our history, but our present too.
Since 2013, September 30th has been recognized as Orange Shirt Day, a day to commemorate the tragic history and long-term repercussions of residential schools. In June 2021, in response to the discovery of over 1,000 unmarked graves near former residential school sites, a newly established federal day of reflection was created. The main objective of National Truth and Reconciliation Day is to provide Canadians the opportunity to learn about and reflect on a tragic chapter in their country's history, as well as to remember the survivors, their families, and their communities, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous leaders have requested.
Every Canadian has a role to play in reconciliation. It entails acknowledging the past and ensuring that history does not repeat itself by respecting Indigenous treaties and rights, as well as letting go of negative preconceptions and perceptions in order to move towards unity. What can schools and students do to honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?
Resources for Rethinking will connect you to some excellent resources to learn more about the cultures, stories and experiences of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. R4R encourages students and teachers to check out these resource picks and participate in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.