Canadians Can Observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Through Education
Several thousand gathered for a Healing Walk through downtown Winnipeg and a powwow on the National Day for Truth And Reconciliation, Sept.30, 2021. Photo: John Woods/The Canadian Press
On Canada’s second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous peoples and all Canadians continue to recognize the genocidal legacy of residential schools on Indigenous communities.
Also known as Orange Shirt Day, people wear an orange T-shirt on Sept.30 to honour victims of residential schools.
This day was named after an experience Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwépemc (Shuswap) girl had at six years old in 1973. When she was sent to St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, B.C., her orange shirt, which was a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her when she arrived. Webstad writes that the instructors at St. Joseph’s Mission stripped all the children of their clothes, leaving them in tears.
“The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing,” Webstad writes.
Now 55, Webstad is the creator of Orange Shirt Day. Wearing an orange shirt affirms that every child matters. Similarly, Indigenous communities hold vigils to honour the unknown children found in unmarked graves and known victims who did not survive residential schools.
Another way to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is through education.
There are courses about the colonial violence Indigenous communities faced when Europeans first arrived, and the discrimination they continue to experience today.
Here are some online courses available around the country to support your commitment to truth and reconciliation:
Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education
The University of British Columbia is offering a 6-week course called Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education to advance reconciliation efforts and share Indigenous ways of knowing.
It is taught by Jan Hare, a UBC professor, Anishinaabe scholar and educator from M’Chigeeng First Nation in northern Ontario.
The course starts Sept. 29. You can enrol for free here.
The University of Alberta is offering a 12-lesson course, called Indigenous Canada, to explore the diverse history and modern perspectives of Indigenous peoples today.
Indigenous Canada is taught by Chelsea Vowel, a Métis writer, lawyer and assistant lecturer at University of Alberta.
The course starts Sept. 27. You can enrol for free here.
Supporting Reconciliation in Saskatchewan Schools
In May 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan launched an online resource to teach educators about the legacy of residential schools. Supporting Reconciliation in Saskatchewan Schools includes lessons, guides, videos, local reconciliation projects and other resources to help educators teach and host informed conversations about the abuse Indigenous children and families faced.
This course is available to the public for free here.
Reconciling our History Walking Tour
The City of Winnipeg partnered with the Manitoba Museum to create an informative walking tour of the Indigenous history within the province’s capital. The Reconciling our History Walking Tour focuses on monuments, historical markers, plaques and places of interest to engage participants in Indigenous perspectives around Winnipeg.
This tour is available year-round. You can learn more about the tour here.
Aboriginal Worldviews and Education
Aboriginal Worldviews and Education is a course that offers Indigenous and non-Indigenous people an accurate education. It explores historical, social and political issues in Aboriginal education, as well as cultural, spiritual and philosophical Aboriginal world views.
The course is taught by Jean Paul Restoule, a Anishinaabe professor of Aboriginal Education at the University of Toronto.
The course begins on Sept. 27. You can enrol for free here.
Crisis and Wellness Support
If you identify as Indigenous and need culturally sensitive support at this time, call the following crisis lines:
Hope for Wellness Help Line
1-855-242-3310 (available 24 hours)
The Hope for Wellness Help Line also has online chat support.
Circle of Care: KUU-US First Nations and Aboriginal Crisis Line
1-800-588-8717 (available 24 hours)
Indian Residential School Survivors Society
1-866-925-4419 (available 24 hours)
1-855-544-HEAL (for women, available 24 hours)
Talk4Healing also has online chat support.
Indian Residential School Survivors and Family
If you are non-Indigenous and need support at this time, call the following crisis line:
Wellness Together Canada
1-866-585-0445 (available 24 hours)