Today is the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day. Today is a day to recognize and reflect on the devastating, colonial legacy of residential schools by commemorating the children who never returned home, honouring the families they left behind, and showing our solidarity with those who survived the residential school system.
Here are some ways that we encourage you to show your support and solidarity today:
1. Wear an Orange Shirt or Support the Orange Shirt Society – Orange Shirt Day began as a grassroots initiative to commemorate the residential school experience, witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. It honours the story of Phyllis Webstad who, at the age of 6, wore a new orange shirt that her grandmother gifted her for her first day of residential school. Upon arrival, she was stripped of all her clothes and belongings including the orange shirt. That cruel action resulted in Phyllis feeling that she did not matter. For her, the colour orange became a symbol of the effects of Indian Residential Schools and a physical symbol for ‘Every Child Matters.’ Today, Phyllis is the founder and ambassador for Orange Shirt Society and works actively to support the healing process of Residential School Survivors and support them in sharing their truth. You can learn more about how to support the Orange Shirt Society here.
2. Listen to and Support Residential School Survivors – Truth and Reconciliation cannot happen until the truth is heard. Often, the truth is hard to hear for non-Indigenous people. But it is critical to grapple with Canada’s colonial history in order for there to be justice. Beyond just listening, it’s important to actively support residential school survivors. Consider some of the following actions:
- Attend a local Truth and Reconciliation Day event near you — here are links to events in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver.
- Watch videos that lift up the voices of residential school survivors
- Tune into APTN documentaries about reconciliation airing throughout the day
- Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society — learn more about the movement to donate one day’s pay
- Read the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
3. Follow the leadership of Indigenous Land Defenders – Indigenous peoples and communities are disproportionately on the frontlines of resource extraction, environmental destruction, and climate impacts. In order to build a truly just future for all, we must follow the leadership of Indigenous land defenders who are courageously resisting environmental and climate injustice.
- Donate to Indigenous Climate Action
- Sign the letter calling for federal and provincial action to holda Imperial Oil accountable after they spilled 5.3 million litres of toxic tailings into the Athabasca watershed
- Demand justice for Grassy Narrows and survivors of their mercury poisoning crisis
- Watch Power to the People to learn more about how Indigenous communities are leading the just transition to a clean energy future
We hope these resources were helpful and that you will take some time to reflect on our collective journey towards Truth and Reconciliation.
Atiya and the 350 Canada Team