National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Resources
This page deals with traumatic history related to the Residential School System of Canada.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, please call the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
The last federally funded residential school to be shuttered in Canada was Gordon’s Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan. It was 1996.
160 years of church and federally funded institutions that were expressly designed to separate families and cut ties to thousands of years of cultural heritage had ended. The lasting effects however, will haunt survivors, their families, and this country for generations to come.
More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were forcefully taken away. Too many never returned home.
In 2015 the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation concluded a years-long research intensive that sought to teach more Canadians about the truth of what happened at these schools. They spoke with survivors and their families, community members, former school staff, government employees, church officials, and Canadians at large.
In their final report, 94 Calls to Action were brought forth for multiple levels of government, the church, and the private sector to heed in order to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.”
Many of those calls have yet gone unheeded.
In May of 2021, 25 years after the closure of the last residential school, the remains of 200 children were discovered in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school near Kamloops, British Columbia. That discovery was soon followed by another in Brandon, Manitoba (104), and another in Marieval, Saskatchewan (751).
The world watched as more sites of former schools turned up more unmarked graves of children and adults alike.
The search for these missing children continues.
Commemorations for the victims and survivors, as well as their families and communities have long been held. Orange shirt day is a legacy movement that has been observed on September 30th to “commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.”
On September 30, 2021, Canada’s first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be officially observed as a federal statutory holiday to allow individuals the time to commemorate the tragic history and impact of the residential school system as well as honour their survivors, families, and communities.
This declaration of a statutory holiday satisfies the 80th Call to Action:
“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Keela will be taking this opportunity to learn and reflect and we invite you to do the same with the following list of resources. We hope they will aid in your understanding and reflection of the legacy of residential schools across Turtle Island, also known as North America.
- Residential Schools in Canada: A Timeline
- National Center for Truth and Reconciliation Official Website
- Indigenous Canada Course (Offered free through the University of Alberta)
- 94 Calls to Action
- Orange Shirt Day
- Shi-shi-etko Short Film
- Witness Blanket Project
- Legacy of Hope
- Unreserved CBC Radio Show with Falen Johnson
- Deb Haaland, United States Secretary of Interior, Announces Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative