Truth and Reconciliation

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is on September 30.

To honour the healing journey of Indigenous lives impacted by the residential schools, we encourage you to join us in learning and hearing from First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNMI) voices across Canada, through a variety of displays, virtual programs and books written by the Indigenous voices of our nation.

Please note: All Library locations will be closed on Sept. 30 as we reflect on the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour the survivors, their families and communities.

The United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On June 16, 2021, the Parliament of Canada passed The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (formerly Bill C-15). The Act received Royal Assent June 21, 2021, and was preceded by decades of advocacy by our Indigenous community. 

The Act sets out Canada’s obligation to uphold the human rights (including Treaty and inherent rights) of Indigenous peoples affirmed by the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). These include the right of self-determination and the right to have Treaties respected and enforced.

The UN Declaration contains the international human rights standards that Canada and all members of the UN have affirmed, and re-affirmed, many times.

Find more information here.

About the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In 2021, the federal government passed legislation to observe September 30 as a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The establishment of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is in response to the 80th call to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

Call to Action #80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

    The official mandate of the TRC is found in Schedule "N" of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which includes the principles that guided the commission in its important work.

    • Between 2007 and 2015, the Government of Canada provided approximately $72 million to support the TRC's work. The TRC spent six years travelling to all parts of Canada and heard from more than 6,500 witnesses. In addition, the TRC hosted seven national events across Canada to educate and engage the Canadian public about the history and legacy of the residential schools' system and to share and honour the experiences of former students and their families.
    • The TRC created a historical record of the residential schools' system, and as part of this process, the Government of Canada provided over five million records to the TRC. All of the documents collected are kept by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.
    • In June 2015, the TRC held its closing event in Ottawa and presented the executive summary of the findings contained in its multi-volume final report, including 94 "calls to action" (or recommendations) to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
    • In December 2015, the TRC released its entire six-volume final report. All Canadians are encouraged to read the summary or the final report to learn more about the terrible history of Indian Residential Schools and its sad legacy. To read all six-volumes of the reports, visit your nearest RHPL or visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
    CBC's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Collection

    To mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, hear the stories of Indigenous voices through this collection of movies, specials and documentaries. View the collection here. 

    The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement 

    One of the elements of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians.

    More than 150,000 Indigenous children were removed and separated from their families and communities to attend residential schools. While most of the 139 Indian Residential Schools ceased to operate by the mid-1970s, the last federally-run school closed in the late 1990s.

    In May 2006, the Settlement Agreement was approved, and the implementation of the Agreement began in September 2007-with the intent to bring a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools.

    Bringing closure to the legacy of Indian residential schools lies at the heart of reconciliation and a renewal of the relationships between Indigenous peoples who attended these schools, their families and communities, and all Canadians.

    The Story of Orange Shirt Day

    Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013.

    The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. 

    Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project.  As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl. 

    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 First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

    (derived from The Orange Shirt Day website).

     

    Resources for Educators

    Explore a variety of resources for children and teens hand-picked by our team. Find books, lesson plans and more. 

    Events & Programs

    Join one of our Indigenous-inspired art projects or experience the story of the Three Sisters through a unique storytelling experience performed by Otsistohkwiyo Elliott.

    Books

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