Ways, big and small, Canadians are marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Here’s how some are observing the day for reflecting on the tragic history of residential schools

Canada marks the first ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. The day is intended to encourage reflection on the painful legacy of the residential school system—to remember the lives of the children who died while attending the institutions and commemorate survivors and their families.

Here’s how some people and organizations across Canada are engaging in grassroots efforts to further reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples and commemorating the day.

Wearing orange shirts

Many people are wearing orange shirts on September 30, which is also Orange Shirt Day. Some folks are selling them for charity, such as two Vancouver shop owners, Robert Pacey and Cheryl Robinson, who pressed and donated over 2,700 shirts for Orange Shirt Day, raising over $37,000. The shirts featured a design donated by Indigenous artist KC Hall. The proceeds were donated to the non-profit Urban Native Youth Association

Creating art for masks

An Indigenous teen artist in Orillia, Ont., 17-year-old Mya McGee, is helping raise funds for a local commemoration initiative by creating designs for masks and sweaters with the words Every Child Matters. 

Measuring reconciliation

A group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics are planning to release their first Reconciliation Barometer forecast later this year, a project aiming to keep Canada accountable for its progress on justice for Indigenous communities. 

Staying closed

Made by Local, a granola bar company based in Dartmouth, N.S., is one of several Canadian companies choosing to close their doors for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Playing hockey

The Dryden Ice Dogs, a junior hockey club in Ontario, held a fundraiser Truth and Reconciliation Game on Sept. 25. The proceeds were donated to the Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society.

Raising funds

 Catholics for Truth and Reconciliation, an independent group of Roman Catholics, is starting a national fund for residential school survivors called “The Time to Act is Now.” The group is aiming to raise $50,000 for the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, Reconciliation Canada, and Returning to Spirit. As well, Indigenous co-owners of a Tim Hortons near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School—including Shane Gottfriedson, former chief of the Tkemlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation—are selling an orange sprinkled donut as part of a fundraiser for residential school survivors.

Paying for child care

A group of Yukoners are taking care of the child care costs of Indigenous parents who don’t get the day off. The Yukon Helpers Network is asking for donations of $150 to help parents take an unpaid day off on Sept. 30.

Raising flags

City halls in municipalities across Ontario—including London, Oakville, Brampton, and Ottawa—are raising orange Every Child Matters flags or lighting local landmarks up in orange.

Attending ceremonies

Communities across the country are holding ceremonies and public gatherings, including cities in British Columbia, and Toronto, Ottawa, and London in Ontario.

Where you can donate to support survivors

Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society

Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society is a B.C. based organization that’s been providing services like counselling and health and cultural services to survivors of residential schools. Donate here. Residential school survivors who need support can call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Legacy of Hope Foundation

The Legacy of Hope Foundation‘s goal is to educate and raise awareness about the impacts of residential schools in the form of educational tools and consultation with survivors. Donate here.

Orange Shirt Society

Orange Shirt Society works to raise awareness of intergenerational trauma caused by the residential schools and commemorate the experiences of survivors. Donate here.

True North Aid

True North Aid provides practical humanitarian support to Indigenous communities in Canada. They have several categories of aid you can contribute to, including housing, food and reconciliation projects. Donate here.

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society develops education initiatives, public policy campaigns and provides resources to support First Nations communities and ensure the well-being of youth and their families. Donate here.

Reconciliation Canada

Reconciliation Canada focuses on workshops and community outreach to further the dialogue around reconciliation. Donate here.

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