September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, when we recognize the ongoing trauma caused by residential and day schools, and remember those who never returned home, survivors and their families. It is also an opportunity to commit to the process of truth, reconciliation and justice with First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Toronto and across Canada.
This holiday was proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which under Action 80 called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to establish a statutory holiday “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 built on Indigenous community efforts, which established Orange Shirt Day in 2013 to honour “Phyllis’ story,” whose new orange shirt was taken on her first day at residential school when she was just six years old.
To mark the day, flags at City Hall and civic centres will be lowered to half-mast and the Toronto sign will be lit orange on September 30. The Survivors Flag will also be flown at half-mast at City Hall. The Survivors Flag is an expression of remembrance, meant to honour residential school survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada.
Reconciliation is the responsibility of every Canadian. It means acknowledging the past and ensuring history never repeats itself by respecting Indigenous treaties and rights, and letting go of negative perceptions and stereotypes to work towards solidarity. Reflect on how you can work towards reconciliation in your own life and create your own personal reconciliation plan.
Explore the Legacy of Hope Foundation‘s online exhibitions and educational resources about the history and effects of the residential school system and the ongoing experiences Indigenous Peoples continue to face.
September 30 to October 12 (various locations) – The TRUTH, part of Toronto History Museums’ Awakenings program, is a mobile public art project visiting various locations across Toronto and everyone is welcome to opening ceremony on Friday, September 30 at 7 p.m. (Garrison Common, Fort York National Historic Site, 100 Garrison Rd.).
September 30, noon to 8 p.m. – For Indigenous community members only: ENAGB Indigenous Youth Agency ceremony, feast and Moon Lodge Teachings; for more information, email Cynthia.Bell-Clayton@enagb-iya.ca or call 416-317-9141
September 30, noon – “Wisdom Weavers: Storytelling & Traditional Teachings,” Anishnawbe Health Toronto via Facebook
September 30, 8 p.m. – Free concert: “Commemorate Truth & Reconciliation: Tomson Highway, Rebecca Cuddy, Sarain Fox, and more”, Royal Conservatory of Music, (Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W.)