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, justice and reconciliation 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. For more information on the Flag, visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
The City of Toronto is committed towards advancing truth, justice and reconciliation, and is making progress in advancing the actions of its first Reconciliation Action Plan.
View the proclamation
What can I do?
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.
- Wear orange on September 30 for Orange Shirt Day, established by the Orange Shirt Society in 2013 to honour “Phyllis’s story”
- Buy an orange shirt from an Indigenous artist or company that supports Indigenous causes, directly through the Orange Shirt Society, or from Toronto History Museums online store.
- Attend community events open to the public, such as:
- September 25 to 30 – Truth and Reconciliation Week public events through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- September 28 – Pop-up market from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring Indigenous brands Aanin and CNN’s Beautiful Creations in the Toronto City Hall rotunda
- September 28 – At Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin‘s final Indigenous Food & Vendor Market of the summer, enjoy Bison Stew with Bannock, blueberry dumplings and sweetgrass tea. Listen to traditional storytelling from Robin Rice and J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth.4 to 7 p.m. at Fort York National Historic Site. Free entry, please bring cash for food and vendors and blankets to sit in the grass. Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin is also accepting for donations of grocery card gift cards and household items.
- September 28 – Wisdom Weavers – Storytelling & Traditional Teachings organized by Anishnawbe Health Toronto
- September 29 and 30 – 6th Annual Indigenous Legacy Gathering led by Toronto Council Fire Native Culture Centre at Nathan Phillips Square
- September 30 – A Day to Listen hosted by the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) in partnership with major media outlets and radio stations
- September 30 – Native Child and Family Services of Toronto’s 26th Annual Community Pow Wow, Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin St.), Grand Entry: 12 p.m.
- September 30 – Special programming at Toronto Zoo, and complimentary admission to all self-identifying Indigenous people
- Read books – the Toronto Public Library curated a list of Indigenous must-reads
- Watch films and documentaries that reflect on the residential school experience – the National Film Board of Canada offers a rich collection of Indigenous-made films
- Support local Indigenous artists and businesses
- Support the reclamation of identity, language and culture, learn greetings/phrases in Indigenous languages, or explore Hart House’s Indigenous Language Exhibit
- Visit the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square, which currently features an artwork titled Rekindle, designed by Toronto-based artist Joseph Sagaj in recognition of UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022 to 2032)
Mental Health Resources & Supports
National Day of Truth and Reconciliation may be difficult, as many continue to reflect, heal and confront traumas. If you require support, the following resources are available: