Why does the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation exist?
From 1831 to 1996, the government forcibly removed more than 150,000 Indigenous children from their homes. These children were deceptively placed into church-and government-run schools where they were assimilated and robbed of their language and traditions. After the closure of the last school in 1997, there were over 25,000 children that did not return and over 100,000 Indigenous peoples that were left with unhealed scars from the trauma and abuse endured.
Canada’s cracked foundation as a sanctuary for inclusivity and acceptance was divided further with the disclosure of 1,505 (and counting) unmarked graves of murdered Indigenous children. As grief and devastation washed over Canada, the Indigenous survivors of these schools could no longer be invalidated with an excuse of “past mistakes” or a diffusion of responsibility that left many saying, “not me”. This tragic reality brings the lived experience and hurt of Indigenous peoples to the forefront with Canada’s call to accountability and reconciliation.
Who should acknowledge this day?
With the unanimous passing of Bill C-5, September 30th is now recognized as a federal statutory holiday and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day is dedicated to acknowledging and commemorating the lasting and harmful impacts of church- and government-run schools on the wellbeing and livelihood of Indigenous peoples.
As a federal statutory holiday, only federally regulated employers, such as banks and public servants, are expected to honour Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. However, regardless of sector, remembering the trauma of survivors and their descendants is the responsibility of all Canadians. Accountability and education are at the heart of standing in solidarity and achieving reconciliation for the overwhelming and detrimental effects of these schools.
To honour the first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, here are 4 recommendations for all Canadian employers:
- Participate: Public Service Alliance of Canada is offering free online events throughout Truth and Reconciliation Week (September 27th to October 1st) “to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation”. You find more information and register here.
- Read: 2015 began a slow process towards reconciliation and truth for church- and government- run schools. We must understand what reconciliation looks like with the lived experience of survivors at the forefront and how we can take action to drive reconciliation forward. Public Service Alliances of Canada provides all necessary reports and Calls to Action for education of Canadians here.
- Listen: Public Service Alliance of Canada recommends two podcasts that share stories of Indigenous families, peoples, and history to understand decades of violence and colonization. Your team can learn firsthand from the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples by checking out Missing and Murdered, and Telling Our Twisted Histories.
- Acknowledge: Whether or not your organization is federally regulated, we encourage all Canadian employers to consider recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, participating in the statutory holiday.
How will your organization participate in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?
If you have questions regarding your organization’s recognition and participation in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, contact our team of HR specialists today: [email protected].