September 30 2023: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

First designated in 2021, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation recognizes and acknowledges Indigenous communities as they recover and reclaim their cultures, languages, and territories from the damage and disruption caused by residential schools. These schools served to further colonization efforts by separating Indigenous children from their customs, families, and land in order to assimilate them and their communities. This is why we are doing what we can, as individuals and as an organization to encourage you to have another look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)’s reports and Calls to Action, and find the ones where you can raise your voice, help move it forward, or exert your power. We also encourage you to learn about residential schools in the areas where you live and grew up, attend local events and donate to Indigenous led organizations, if you are able.

On September 30th, and in the days leading up to it, our staff and volunteers are attending events in person and online, to show our support and continue learning. We are sharing below a list of events and resources in the hope that you can find something interesting or close to where you are, and mark the day as best as you can.

What can you do on September 30?

  1. Find and attend local events! See our list below for some ideas, but reaching out to your local community spaces may also help you find out what other activities are happening.
  2. Email, call or write your local policy maker, telling them you want immediate action to fully implement the 94 calls to action in the TRC report to truly advance reconciliation.
  3. Follow and support (financially if you have the means or in any way you can) Indigenous-led organizations, businesses, and folks working on the ground. A few organizations and initiatives that may be of interest include Indigenous Climate Action, Yellowhead Institute, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Tiny House Warriors, and the Gitimd’en Checkpoint Camp. We’d love to hear about others that resonate with you.
  4. Wear an Orange Shirt! Here are two places you can get them:
    • Orange Shirts designed by KC Hall available online and in-store at MAKE on Granville Island and at MAKE Gastown with 100% of profits going directly to Urban Native Youth Association
    • Circle of Eagles Trading Post is an online and retail store owned and operated by Circle of Eagles Lodge Society, a not-for-profit Indigenous organization in Vancouver

Events and activities you can attend or support

In person 2023:

Online 2023:

National Center for Truth and Reconciliation
Lunch & Learn Webinars:
Sept. 28: Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Sept. 29: Taking action towards Reconciliation.

Additional resources

If you are seeking concrete actions to take, the educational resources below may be helpful:

Support services

Recognizing the intense emotion and harm that today can bring forth, below is a list of support services for those people impacted by residential schools and their legacy:

Background: September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The creation of September 30 as a federal statutory day fulfills call to action #80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) “to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

This day comes after years of work by Indigenous Peoples to commemorate Orange Shirt Day on September 30, as a result of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion, which took place in Williams Lake, B.C. in 2013. This project originated with the wishes of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, a survivor, to bring together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations.

The uncovering of unmarked graves at the nearby Kamloops Indian Residential School (located on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory) and other locations across the country, including ongoing investigations on Vancouver Island (at the Nanaimo “Indian Hospital”, located in Snuneymuxw First Nation territory), in Alert Bay (at the St. Michael’s Indian Residential School, located on ‘Namgis First Nation territory), and in North Vancouver (at the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School, located on Squamish Nation territory), makes it painfully clear today that these efforts should have been listened to and supported many years ago.

Not all of Canada stands united in marking this day. First designated federally in 2021, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has only been designated this year by the B.C. government. This reveals how challenging it has been for Indigenous Peoples to achieve a day unanimously supported to mark the harsh reality they have had to endure in this country, and how complex it is to establish September 30 as a ‘holiday’ despite it being a recommendation since 2015 in the TRC.

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, for example, has stated; “For the first time, Canadians will take this day to commemorate the legacy of residential schools” and “we will check on our survivors and their family members, listen to and share our truths, and continue to bring awareness to our struggles and our strengths, as we move forward in healing.”