Every year on September 30, we observe Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors and ancestors who perished from residential schools, as well as families and communities who continue to be affected.
The date, September 30, was chosen because it represents the time of year when church and government would organize the removal of children from First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities to take them to residential schools. This was not simply a dark chapter in Canada’s history – the painful legacy of these schools continues to this day with more Indigenous children currently in foster care than there ever were in residential schools.
Excerpts from the Orange Shirt Day Organization
“…Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project, opening the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for all communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations to come
…several provincial governments have proclaimed Orange Shirt Day, and in March of 2019, the Government of Canada passed a bill designating September 30th National Truth and Reconciliation Day. Unfortunately, that bill died in the Senate.”
With the recent discoveries of more than 1,200 unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country, meaningful recognition of this day must include more than words. In 2021, the federal government officially established the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. Establishing this long overdue national statutory holiday was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action and having it recognized provincially is a vital component of the reconciliation process. On this day, it is important that we spend time reflecting on the ongoing impacts of anti-Indigenous racism, current issues and how, as allies, we can enact reconciliatory transformation while uplifting the brilliance and sophistication of Indigenous knowledges, governance practices.
Throughout the month of September, the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health is organizing several events to recognize Orange Shirt Day and provide opportunities for education and action.
Watch last year’s National Day for Truth & Reconciliation Ceremony here.
Hosted by Women’s College Hospital community of allies and co-conspirators with The Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health.
In partnership with the Office of Indigenous Health at U of T’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Panel: “Action & Accountability”
Friday, September 30, 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
To honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Centre for Wise Practices will be hosting a panel in WCH’s auditorium with Dr. Lisa Richardson, Strategic Lead in Indigenous Health, WCH, and Heather McPherson, President and CEO of WCH, who will be joined by special guests, to be announced soon! The panel will include a traditional opening, drumming and song from WCH’s Elder in Residence Kawennanoron Cindy White as well as remarks by executive leadership from Women’s College Hospital and our Foundation. Panelists will be guided in a moderated discussion on what action and accountability has looked like for our institutions and partnering communities dedicated to honouring the specific TRC calls-to-action 18-24 for healthcare and education and the MMIWG’s health and wellness calls for justice for service providers.
In-person attendance for our auditorium will be limited.
Register to attend in person here: https://NDTR-PANEL-WCH.eventbrite.ca
Register to attend via Zoom: https://bit.ly/NDTR-WCH-PANEL
Choose one or more action items listed below to advance truth and reconciliation:
- Learn about Orange Shirt Day and the painful legacy of Canada’s Residential School System
- Make a donation – if you aren’t able to purchase an orange shirt from the Centre for Wise Practices, you can still donate to the Toronto Council Fire’s Indigenous Daily Food Bank program, The Gathering Place
- Visit the On Canada Action Guide and Download the Indigenous Ally Toolkit
- Write your MP asking:
- For TRC calls to action #76 to be honoured from 2009: Forensic archaeology investigations on residential school sites
- To recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial stat holiday
- Read the reports and guides available on the CWP-IH hub:
- Indigenous Health Primer & Health Values Statements (guides)
- Wise Practices for Healthcare Leaders (guides)
- MMIWG2S Report: Imperative Calls for Justice
- MMIWG2S Report: Imperative Calls for Justice
- Truth and Reconciliation Report : 94 Calls to Action
- Visit the Indigenous Watchdog app to learn more about the current status of each CTA and other critical Indigenous issues
Visit the following links for more information and resources.
- Phyllis Webstad’s story (founder of Orange Shirt Day Organization)
- Truth & Reconciliation in Canada’s Health System
- Scientific American on Residential Schools
- Beyond 94—CBC’s live tracking on Canada’s response the TRC’s Calls-to-Action
- Interview with Senator Murray Sinclair about systemic racism
- The Secret Life of Canada: A history podcast about the country you know, and the stories you don’t
- National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health: social determinants of health / understanding racism
- The National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education
- The Way Forward
- Native Women’s Association of Canada: Federal Action Plan to Address the Findings of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
- 7 Tips on Building Relationships with Indigenous Peoples
- Uncovering an Oral History of Tkaronto
- Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools
- Representation and Reconciliation—Indigenous leadership for health in Canada
- Yellowed Institute Special Report: Calls to Action Accountability, 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation
- The Indigenous Toronto Issue (The Local)
- Woodland Cultural Centre