Thursday September 30, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Today September 30, 2021 is the first national Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, to be observed each year across the country in remembrance and recognition of the historical truths about how Indigenous peoples have been treated through the process of colonization.
The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
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.
On the day:
For many who wonder how they can best honour the meaning of this day, many Indigenous leaders have suggested over recent weeks that people could spend some time reflecting on the impacts upon Indigenous people.
A practical way to do that might include reading and coming to terms with the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action report of 2015 including the 94 recommendations included in the report.
At the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website there are archives and information on Truth and Reconciliation Week. There is a portal for survivors to learn and do more, and a page with links to all the reports.
Schools will be closed:
On Thursday, September 30th, most schools, post-secondary, health-care sector and crown corporation offices will be closed.
Locally here on the west shore, all SD62 schools and buildings will be closed to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.
Public events in the west shore & Sooke:
SD62 at their September 28 board meeting mentioned two public events:
- In Colwood at 10 am there will be an outdoor ceremony at Royal Beach.
- In Sooke at 11 am there will be a gathering in town center (between the two grocery stores).
September 30 in BC:
Back in August, BC Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin, and Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, released a statement on marking the federal Truth and Reconciliation Day, pointing out that in June, the federal government announced September 30 as a new annual statutory day to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.
Premier Horgan encourages acknowledgement:
Yesterday Premier John Horgan and Minister Rankin issued the following joint statement to commemorate Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
“Tomorrow, we remember the children who didn’t come home. As we mark Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, our country – and each of us as individuals – continue to grapple with the horrific findings made in the last several months at former Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia and across Canada. By wearing orange shirts, we are acknowledging the truth of the residential school system, and honour survivors, families and communities.
“Orange Shirt Day would not exist without the strength and courage of the campaign’s founder, Phyllis Webstad. Her story of residential school survival, as well as those shared by Vancouver Island advocate Eddy Charlie and so many others, sparked a national conversation on the true history of this country.
“Although the truths of the residential school system were well-documented through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in May, we were horrified and heartbroken to learn of the findings at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The work of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc requires all of us to confront the wrongs of the past, to fully comprehend our true history and to work together now to create a better future. We acknowledge the continued leadership, courage and commitment of all First Nations throughout British Columbia who are doing the difficult work of honouring these missing children.
“Along with two recently appointed First Nations liaisons, the Province will continue to assist caretaker communities as they lead investigations at former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals in B.C. Our government is actively supporting First Nations as they develop and implement their own strategies to facilitate truth telling, healing and justice. Survivors, intergenerational survivors and communities will remain at the centre of this work.
“This year, Sept. 30 is also a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The new federal statutory day responds to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action for a national day to honour those affected by residential schools.
“We will consult with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities over the coming months on the best and most respectful ways to commemorate Sept. 30 here in B.C. We will also bring the business community, employers and labour groups into the conversation, so that they can participate in the planning in meaningful ways. While we continue this engagement with the aim of formally recognizing this important day in B.C. in the future, this year, public service workplaces will be observing the statutory day of remembrance and reflection.
“Public commemoration of our shared history is just one of many steps we can take in our work to advance reconciliation. We must also face the truth of the harms perpetrated by colonial policies and the residential school system. As government, we will work to deconstruct the colonial systems that are still in place and continue to harm Indigenous peoples. We owe this to the future generations.
“We encourage every British Columbian to wear an orange shirt to proclaim that every child matters, and that we are all committed to working together with Indigenous peoples to create a better future for all of our children, for the province and for the entire country.”