National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as 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.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its calls to action
There were 140 federally run residential schools in Canada that operated between 1831 and 1998. The last school closed less than 25 years ago. Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the intergenerational impacts of harms caused. Their efforts culminated in:
- the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
- apologies by the government
- the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- the creation of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ran from 2008 to 2015 and provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the residential schools policy with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. The Commission released its final report detailing 94 calls to action. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has become the permanent archive for the statements, documents and other materials the Commission gathered. Its library and collections, as well as its National Student Memorial Register, are the foundation for ongoing learning and research.
Both the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day take place on September 30.
Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
On September 30, we encourage all Canadians to wear orange to honour the thousands of Survivors of residential schools.